A Christian young man’s (identity withheld) application for a criminal background report required to start his own technical company was rejected by the identification department of Iranian police because of his allegedly ‘criminal records’. The young man had been arrested by security authorities more than two and half years ago in a northern city in Iran for charges of converting to Christianity and attending house church services. However, he was released after posting the demanded bail. On May 26, 2012, after he submitted his application, completed all the paper work and was fingerprinted, a letter was sent to the Revolutionary and Public Court of the city referring to him as “apostate”.
This Christian young man wanted to launch a business to afford living expenses and needed to receive a criminal background report from police to obtain the required license. The Revolutionary and Public Court received a letter from police regarding this young man, stating, “The subject person is accused of apostasy and has a criminal record accordingly!”
This coercive action against the Iranian young man, whose only crime was converting to Christianity, is equivalent to denying all his opportunities and future. It is happening in a country whose constitution clearly states in Article 13 that “Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism are the only recognized non-Islamic religions and their followers are free to practice their faith and perform their ceremonies within the limits of the law and act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education. ”
However, refusing to issue a business license for a Christian young man is only one aspect of the Iranian Islamic regime’s oppression of religious minorities, especially Christians with Islamic backgrounds. Pressuring and restricting non-Islamic religions is deeply rooted in the Islamic Republic’s line of thinking. Despite all the domestic and international criticism by different rights organizations, it seems that the regime does not care about them at all and continues to pressure and threaten religious minorities. The same situation that affects Baha’is, Zoroastrians and Dervishes is strangling Iranian Christians as well.
– Implementation of the methods used against Baha’is for Christian converts
Following violation of Baha’i’s rights ranging from threats and torture to deprivation of education and work, now it is the Iranian Christians’ turn to suffer from the same violations and restrictions. Recently, the Islamic regime of Iran has been applying the experience it gained through dealing with Baha’is in order to further pressure and restrict Christians.
Today, the regime’s restrictions against Christians are not limited to deprivation of education in high-schools and universities and not allowing them to have their own schools, but it has penetrated to deeper and more personal aspects of the lives of these newly converted Christians.
– Social restrictions against Christian converts
The social restrictions against Iranian Christian converts are to the extent that no church is allowed to hold Christian wedding ceremonies and converts who desire to marry must travel abroad in order to hold their wedding ceremonies at a church.
Also, government offices are ordered to not employ Christians.
Christian university students who get arrested by security authorities will be expelled and deprived of continuing their education.
There are no schools for Farsi-speaking Christian children and because they must attend regular schools, they are forced to read the Quran. This is another example of discrimination and restrictions against Iranian Christians, especially Christian converts.
The regime has ordered that no Bible or Christian literature may be printed, distributed or sold across the country. Another restriction Christians face in Iran is that they do not even have one Farsi-language Christian paper and/or publication inside the country.
Although article 19 of the human rights universal declaration states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”, Christians in Iran are forced to hide their faith in society due to restrictions imposed by the Islamic regime. Christians suffer from this rights inequality. Nevertheless, Christian converts are ready to pay the price of their faith regardless of how severe it may be.
– Christians and regime opponents in same league
Ayatollah Sobhani, a religious expert in Qom, recently said in his remarks that Christians, Baha’is and regime opponents have plans to promote anti hijab thoughts. He said, “There shouldn’t be people in Qom (the spiritual capital of the Islamic Republic) who do not observe hijab in its proper way.”
He added, “Improper Hijab has no place in a city which is the center for Islamic jurisprudence”.
Putting Christians and regime opponents in the same league can have only one meaning and that is that influential regime figures have shown a green light to Intelligence, military and judicial services to treat Christians in the same way as they treat regime opponents, which of course, is a cruel way. Even before that, the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, in speaking to regime authorities on his 9-day trip to Qom, warned against the same matter.