By Damaris Kremida ISTANBUL, June 8 (Compass Direct News) – Authorities in Iran this week ordered the closure of a church in the capital, Tehran, amid a government campaign to crack down on the few recognized churches offering Farsi-speaking ...
Religious Freedom – Iran
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM in IRAN
Twelver (Shi’a) Islam is Iran’s official religion. Constitutionally, Muslims of different schools are guaranteed equal rights, and three other religious minorities have legal protection: Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians. These recognized religions have five reserved seats in Parliament: two for Armenian Christians and one each for Assyrian Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians.
In November 2013, within one hundred days of being in office, President Rouhani’s government published a draft Citizens’ Rights Charter. In 2014, President Rouhani affirmed that discrimination against religious minorities does not occur in Iran. However, there continues to be social as well as systemic persecution of religious minorities.
There is no Sunni mosque in Tehran, and Sunni teachings have been banned from public schools. Sunni mosques and Sufi gathering places have been destroyed by authorities. Clerics, leaders and activists have been subject to fines, floggings, and arrests. Sufi Muslims as well as Jews are often demonized in the state-controlled media.
Iran’s penal code is based on Sharia law, prescribing the death penalty for those convicted of moharebeh (“enmity against God”). Converting from Islam to a non-Muslim religion is also punishable by death.
Since 2010, there 500 Christians have been arbitrary detained. Christians can be sentenced for apostasy, another offense punishable by death. This occurs occasionally but is used more frequently as a tool to threaten Christians. Christians have faced arrests and tortures for participation in Christian activities, such as prayers, which are classified as threats to national security. Authorities conduct church raids and closures.
Iran is home to at least 300,000 Baha’is, who have been routinely harassed and attacked by security forces and paramilitary groups. Since 1979, 200 Baha’i leaders have been killed, and more than 10,000 have been dismissed from government and academic jobs.
For further reading:
- Iranian Constitution: https://faculty.unlv.edu/pwerth/Const-Iran(abridge).pdf
- Draft Citizenship Rights Charter (English Translation): http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2014/01/draft-citizenship/
- Iran – World Report 2015 (Human Rights Watch): http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/iran