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Iran violently clamps down on Christians amid reports of torture, fines and floggings

Iran claims to allow the country’s Christian minority to practice its faith in peace. The reality for many Iranian Christians, however, is plagued by whippings, arrests, imprisonment, surveillance and harassment, according to a February report from the religious freedom NGO Article 18. 

One shocking finding of the Article 18 40-page study, titled ‘Faceless Victims: Rights Violations Against Christians in Iran,’ states, ‘By the end of 2023, at least 17 of the Christians arrested during the summer had received prison sentences of between three months and five years, or non-custodial punishments such as fines, flogging, and in one case the community-service of digging graves.’

The report noted, ‘Despite a comparable number of Christians being arrested in 2023 as in previous years – 166 arrests were documented in 2023, compared to 134 in 2022 – fewer names and faces could be publicized.’

Rev. Johnnie Moore, the president of the Congress of Christian Leaders, told Fox News Digital, ‘The Department of State’s absolutely insane policy toward the Islamic Republic, which is wreaking havoc worldwide, also has real life-and-death consequences for the people in Iran. The mullahs presently feel they have a license to kill whoever they want and no one will do anything. So more people are being captured and killed and the terrorist leaders of the Islamic Republic particularly lust for the blood of women and Christians. ‘

Moore, an influential evangelical leader, explained that Iran’s regime persecutes Christians ‘Because these mullahs fear the power and resolve of Iranian women, and they know that Iranian Christians, who only fear God, do not fear the ayatollah himself. The more the mullahs threaten, imprison and kill us, our movement just multiplies. No church in the world is growing, secretly, and faster than the Iranian church and Iran’s women look very much forward to the day when the world greets the first woman president of a free Iran.’

He continued, ‘I predict she and her cabinet, inclusive of evangelical Christians, the Baha’i and others, will make their maiden international trip to Jerusalem and Washington. The mullahs want to kill us for one reason: they know we are winning. It would be nice to have more help from the State Department but it isn’t required.’

A State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, ‘The persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iran is longstanding and well documented. The U.S. continues to condemn these actions and use all the tools at our disposal to address such egregious violations.’

The spokesperson added, ‘The Department’s most recent Report on International Religious Freedom in Iran notes, ‘Officials continued to disproportionately arrest, detain, harass, and surveil Christians, particularly evangelicals and other converts from Islam, according to Christian NGOs.’’

When Fox News Digital asked if the State Department will impose new human rights sanctions on Iran’s regime for the persecution of Christians, the spokesperson said, ‘While the Department does not preview sanctions, Iran has been designated as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ and imposed Presidential Actions under the International Religious Freedom Act for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom every year since 1999.’

The raw violence used by Iran’s theocratic state against Iranian Christians was documented in the Article 18 report. Ali Kazemian said his interrogators ‘discovered that I had a metal implant in my left leg from an historic break’ and ‘for this reason, one of the agents kicked my left leg several times. Then they put me on a chair, tied my hands together, and the interrogator said: ‘You are now in an electric chair’… Then they violently punched me several times.’

He said the security forces threatened him, declaring: ‘We’ll harm your wife and children!… We’ll bring your wife to the interrogation room and strip her naked in front of everyone, to see if you can really resist and stay quiet!’

Iran’s regime has targeted all forms of Christianity for persecution, including Protestants and the arrest of Catholics.

Article 18, which published the report in collaboration with Open Doors, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Middle East Concern, said there might be as many 800,000 Christians in Iran. The report extrapolated the number 800,000 based on a ‘A survey of Iranians’ attitudes toward religion in 2020, conducted by a secular Netherlands-based research group, revealed that 1.5% of Iranians from a sample size of 50,000 self-identified as Christians.’

The report was published on Feb. 19 to draw attention to the 45th anniversary of the Iranian regime’s brutal execution of Anglican pastor Arastoo Sayyah in his church in Shiraz, a mere eight days after the Islamic Revolution. Sayyah was the first Christian murdered by the regime.

Sheina Vojoudi, an Iranian Christian who fled the Islamic Republic, told Fox News Digital, Christianity in Iran is classified under political-security crimes, Despite this, more and more Iranians are converting to Christianity every day. Christianity is considered by the Islamic Republic in Iran as a Western religion and works against the Islamic Republic.’

Vojoudi, who is an associate fellow for the U.S.-based Gold Institute for International Strategy, added, ‘The persecution and killing of the Christians started after the occupation of Iran by the Islamic Regime and since then the Islamic Republic has murdered at least 15 Iranian pastors.’

According to Vojoudi, Iran’s regime ramped up its persecution of the struggling Christian community following the Green revolution movement in 2009 against the widely documented fraudulent election of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 

‘The regime in Iran increased the persecutions and arrests due to fear of its downfall and that, of course, doesn’t exclude the Christians in Iran,’ Vojoudi said.

She said, ‘The regime burned 300 Persian Bibles and seized 650 Bibles and until today having a Persian Bible is a crime. A prohibition on preaching in Persian in the churches was announced by the intelligence organizations.’

Vojoudi converted to Christianity and fled to Germany due to religious persecution. Article 18’s report stated, ‘Christian converts from Islam are numerically the largest Christian community in Iran, but they are not recognized by the state and are frequently targeted by the authorities and, in some cases, by their extended families and society. ‘

Vojoudi said, ‘I used to go to a church near this cathedral church in Tehran, of course secretly. This church was open to the public, but I forgot on which days, but is extremely under [the] watch of the regime.

‘The picture of [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic regime, sits right next to the church, means that they watch everyone, and they have no respect for other religions.’

Article 18 wrote, ‘With converts constituting the largest – albeit unrecognized – Christian community in Iran, the issue of ‘apostasy’ is a central concern… a Christian convert was sentenced to be hanged for apostasy in 2010, the charge of apostasy and death sentence were overturned in response to international pressure, but many converts have since been threatened with a similar fate upon arrest and during interrogations.’ 

The dire fate of Iranian Christians has forced them to organize house churches as part of an underground movement.

Vojoudi said Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, declared in a speech the ‘importance of confronting the house churches and provoked his followers against the Christians by claiming that the house churches are created by the ‘enemies of Islam’ and must be stopped.’

Article 18 listed a number of demands for the international community, including that foreign nations urge Iran ‘to ensure and facilitate freedom of religion or belief for all its citizens’ and ‘highlighting human rights infractions during bilateral and multilateral dialogues with Iran.’

Fox News Digital sent numerous press queries to Iran’s U.N. mission and its Foreign Ministry in Tehran.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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