Raymond Ibrahim | Oct. 9, 2018
In his recent speech before the United Nations, and as a way to support his claim that Israel is “a rogue and racist regime [that] trample[s] upon the most basic rights of the Palestinians,” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani repeatedly portrayed his government as dedicated to “moderation and respect for human rights,” adding: “We in Iran strive to build peace and promote the human rights of peoples and nations. We never condone tyranny and we always defend the voiceless. We never threaten anyone…”
How do these claims stand to scrutiny? One need only look to Iran’s Christian minority—which forms only one percent of the entire population—for an answer. Unlike the persecution other Christian minorities experience in Muslim majority nations—which often comes at the hands of Muslim individuals, mobs, or professional terrorists—the primary driver of Christian persecution in Iran is Rouhani’s government itself.
The 2018 World Watch List, compiled by Open Doors, a human rights organization that highlights the global persecution of Christians, makes this clear. Iran is among the top ten worst nations where Christians experience “extreme persecution.”
[Moreover], whereas most persecution of Christians in the Arab Gulf region comes from society or radical Islamic groups, the main threat for believers in Iran comes from the government. The Iranian regime declares the country to be a Shia Islamic State and is constantly expanding its influence. Hardliners within the regime are vehemently opposed to Christianity, and create severe problems for Christians, particularly converts from Islam. Christians and other minorities are seen as threats to this end, and are persecuted as a result. Iranian society as a whole is more tolerant than their leadership, thanks in part due to the influence of moderate and mystical Sufi Islam.