If you go to the police to report a crime, you hope to be taken seriously. You don’t expect to be arrested yourself.
That’s the situation that faced Iranian Christian Fatemeh Mohammadi recently, when she went to file a complaint about being assaulted on a bus. According to an eyewitness, a woman had insulted Fatemeh for not wearing her headscarf ‘properly’, then shoved her and hit her in the face.
The assailant was not penalised. She was considered to be acting in accordance with a law that says it’s acceptable to stop others committing ‘disgraceful acts’. Fatemeh, on the other hand, was arrested. She was released on bail the following morning.
This isn’t the first time that Fatemeh has been targeted. In 2018, she served a six-month sentence for ‘Christian activity’, ‘membership in proselytising groups’ and ‘acting against national security through propaganda against the regime’.
Bravely, and by God’s grace, she continues to run a campaign for Christians in Iran to be allowed to worship in a church – crucially, including believers who have converted from Islam.
Fatemeh, used with permission from Article 18
Iranian Christians need your support
The situation is getting worse for Iranian Christians. Iran is number 9 on the Open Doors World Watch List. While Article 23 of the country’s constitution says that ‘no-one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief’, the current government of Iran is committed to expanding the influence of Shia Islam. Hardliners within the leadership are very anti-Christian, and the Bishop of Truro’s recent review of Christian persecution for the UK Foreign Office highlighted that the situation had reached an alarming state: “Christians with a Muslim background are most vulnerable and face tougher persecution from all actors and especially from their families and communities.”
Last year, in November and December alone, more than 250 Iranian Christians were arrested across the country. Thankfully they are often released after a few hours or days, but have their mobile phones confiscated and know they are not safe. Longer prison sentences have been given to leaders of house churches for Christians from Muslim backgrounds. These churches are frequently raided.
Your support and prayers enable Open Doors to advocate for Iranians who are imprisoned for their Christian faith, and to offer trauma care to former prisoners now living outside Iran. For example, more than 30 Christians received trauma care in Turkey after being released from Iranian prisons.
We know that God ‘leads out the prisoners with singing’ (Psalm 68:6) – please continue to pray for those who have been imprisoned for their Christian faith in Iran.
Pray for Mahrokh
One person possibly facing prison who particularly needs your prayers is Mahrokh, a 65-year-old woman who converted to Christianity from Islam. You can read her story in a separate post.
Your prayers and support are vital for Mahrokh, Fatemeh and your other brothers and sisters in Iran. Thanks to you, Open Doors can continue to advocate for those in prison and support those former prisoners living elsewhere in the region.
- That the judge will act justly and recognise the right to freedom of religion for Mahrokh
- For strength for Fatemeh’s continuing campaign for religious freedom
- That prisoners will be released, and that those released will heal from the trauma of the appalling conditions they’ve experienced.