Jihad Watch | Andrew Harrod | March 3, 2020
“Christianity is considered an existential threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” wrote February 7 the Christian religious freedom advocates Arielle Del Turco and Lela Gilbert. This statement indicates the extreme measures Iran’s theocratic Islamic Republic is willing to implement in order to repress alternative belief systems such as Christianity, and the enormous attendant political consequences.
Various media reports have confirmed that, concerning Christianity, the “Iranian government views converts as a Western attempt to undermine Islam and the Islamic Republic.” “Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has cataloged Christianity as an existential threat to the nation,” Vernon Brewer, the Christian humanitarian organization World Help’s founder, has written. “Iran’s ayatollahs,” American Foreign Policy Council Senior Vice President Ilan Berman has observed, “view those who adhere to a different set of religious principles as a mortal threat to their extreme interpretation of the Islamic faith.”
Middle East Concern (MEC), a human rights organization focused on persecuted Middle East Christians, has noted that the 1979 Islamic Republic constitution in its first article “institutes a theocracy.” Article 12 establishes “Islam and the Twelver Ja‘fari school of Shi’a Islam as the nation’s official religion. Accordingly, all Iranian laws must be derived from and be consistent with Islamic law.” Article 13 recognizes only Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians as “religious minorities” who “may exercise their religious ceremonies within the limits of the law.”
MEC noted that the Islamic Republic “interprets these three recognized minorities to refer only to those from ethnic communities such as Assyrian and Armenian Christians” as “part of the historical heritage of the nation.” Therefore media reports have observed that
Armenian and Chaldean churches are allowed to hold services, as long as they are not conducted in Persian, and they are observed by the police. Distributing Christian literature in Farsi is strictly forbidden, in order to prevent evangelization.