Statement of the WEA Religious Liberty Commission: Arrests of Christians in Iran is Condemnable.

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January 12, 2010

The ongoing raiding of homes and arrests of Christians in predominantly Shi’ite Iran, which began deplorably during the Christmas season, need to stop immediately.

Since December 26, Iranian security agents in plain clothes have searched the homes of many Christians and arrested at least 40 of them in a crackdown in the capital city of Tehran and a few other places.

The onslaught, targeting converts from Islam and those engaged in evangelism, continued despite preceding international concerns over the arrest of a pastor, Behrouz Sadegh-Khanjani, and conviction of the pastor of the Full Gospel Church in Rasht, Yousef Nadarkhani, for apostasy, leading to awarding of death penalty.

Tehran’s governor, Morteza Tamadon, was quoted by state news agency IRNA as saying that missionary evangelicals had stepped up their activity in Iran, which according to him is a “cultural invasion of the enemy.” The governor went on to say, “Just like the Taliban, who have inserted themselves into Islam like a parasite, [evangelicals] have crafted a movement in the name of Christianity.”

WEA-RLC Executive Director Godfrey Yogarajah said, “The growing authoritarianism in Iran only shows that the regime’s popularity is falling drastically which is making the government highly insecure and unnerved.”

Yogarajah added: “It is highly condemnable and incongruous that while Shi’ites themselves face persecution in Sunni-majority countries like Pakistan where they are minorities, in Iran some of their leaders emulate the same intolerant Sunni extremists by persecuting the Christian and other minorities.

 “Regular campaigns against minorities by the Iranian regime cost the people of Iran dearly, as they divert the country’s limited resources that could be used for citizens’ welfare to fund activities that only create tensions and isolate the country even further.”

 In Iran, Christians account for only around one percent of the Muslim-majority population. The Iranian regime also persecutes other minorities, including Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and Sufis.

 WEA-RLC urges the human rights and religious freedom fraternity and international policy analysts to treat and highlight the escalating persecution of minorities in Iran as an extremely serious issue.

 For further information please contact Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director at [email protected] or visit http://www.worldevangelicals.org/commissions/rlc/.

The Religious Liberty Commission is monitoring the religious liberty situation in more than 100 nations, defending persecuted Christians, informing the global church, challenging the Church to pray (www.idop.org) and giving all possible assistance to those who are suffering. The Commission also makes fact finding trips and meets with governments and ambassadors speaking up for the suffering brothers and sisters. At the United Nations the Commission reports about the situation and arranges special hearings with Christians from countries under pressure.