Iran

Leader: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Population: 75.6 million (450,000 Christians)
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Islamic republic
World Watch List Rank: 8
Source of Persecution: Islamic extremism/ Dictatorial paranoia

Fearful of the increasing numbers of Christians, particularly in house churches, the authorities closely monitor Christian activities, particularly churches that reach out to Muslims. Evangelism, Bible training and publishing Scriptures in Farsi are illegal. Detentions of Christians are common. Several Christians were forced to leave their homes or flee the country. Muslim-background believers face most pressure - any Muslim who leaves Islam faces the death penalty. In September 2012 Pastor Nadarkhani was released after three years in prison on charges of apostasy.

Please Pray:

  • For Pastor Nadharkani and his family as he adjusts to life after prison
  • For justice for Christian prisoners and lawyers who try to defend them.
  • Many disillusioned Iranian Muslims are becoming curious about Christianity. Pray that they will find hope in Jesus.

Persecution dynamics

Islam is the official religion and all laws must be consistent with the official interpretation of Islamic law. Of all types of Christianity, believers from a Muslim background face most persecution, as well as Protestant evangelicals. There is relatively less pressure on the historical ethnic Armenian and Assyrian Christian minority, as long as they do not evangelise Muslims.

Ethnic Persians are by definition Muslim, according to the state. Evangelism, Bible training and publishing Scriptures in Farsi are all illegal, yet this has only fuelled the flames of church growth.

Any Muslim who leaves Islam faces the death penalty. The regime's focus is on those reaching out to converts and even well-established Christian denominations are not safe from harassment. Church activities are closely monitored, members identified and taken note of. In addition, Christians were physically harmed, a number while in jail. The Iranian authorities' fear of increasing numbers of Christians, particularly in house churches, is based on fact with many disillusioned Iranian Muslims becoming curious about Christianity.

Open Doors in Action

The role of Open Doors is to:

  • Provide Bibles and discipleship training for Iranian Christians
  • Broadcast the gospel and discipleship training programmes throughout the country, in cooperation with local partners
  • Support Iranian Christians with prayer, encouragement and advocacy.

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