How is it that the government of the Islamic Republic misunderstands Islam so spectacularly as to be this intolerant? Could it be that Islam doesn’t actually teach that non-Muslims should be treated as equals? Naaah — that couldn’t be!
Iran’s hard-line regime has intensified its violent crackdown on Christians and other religious minorities, even imprisoning nursing mothers for practicing their faith, according to a new UN report.
The March report provides a rare, detailed view into the shocking treatment of Christians in Iran, where American Pastor Saeed Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence for his alleged work with Christians.
“The persecution of Christians has increased,” said Ahmed Shaheed, the UN”s expert on human rights in Iran. “It seems to target new converts and those who run house churches.”
At least 13 Protestant Christians are currently in detention centers across Iran, and more than 300 Christians have been arrested since June 2010, according to the report. In addition to Christians, the nation’s 350,000 Bahai, who form Iran’s largest non-Muslim faith, have suffered under Tehran’s repression.
While most of the cases have not made headlines, the report spotlighted some examples.
Iran’s judicial authorities sentenced Christian Pastor Behnam Irani in 2011 and church leader Farshid Fathi in 2012 to six-year prison terms. Irani was convicted of “actions against the state,” because he preached Christianity, while Fathi was convicted of “religious propaganda.”
Abedini was sentenced in late January to eight years in Iran’s Evin prison for practicing Christianity in Iran.
Fathi was accused of distributing Persian-language Bibles and coordinating trips for church members to attend religious seminars and conferences outside the country, the report stated.
Iran’s regime shut down the home-based Janat Abad Assemblies of God Church in Tehran last year.
“Fundamentally, it is an issue of intolerance of different views,” Shaheed said.
There is a “new Islamization in part of the government” that might explain the spike in repression targeting Christians, he added.
The UN report is the latest evidence that Iran’s clerical leaders seek to stamp out religious freedoms for minorities and dissent in the authoritarian Islamic Republic….