Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Update: ‘Hijab enforcers’ and further arrests in Iran - Open Doors UK & Ireland
15 August 2023

Update: ‘Hijab enforcers’ and further arrests in Iran

There is a fresh and aggressive crackdown on Christians in Iran, with increasing arrests and 'hijab enforcers'.


Christians in Iran are facing increasing crackdowns on their civil liberties

There are further crackdowns on civil liberties in Iran as the anniversary of protests and unrests draws closer.

The number of Christians being arrested in Iran continues to rise. Most are being released, but are also being forced to sign commitments to refrain from further Christian activities. Some have even been ordered to leave the country, while one believer was fired from his job because of his faith. Please keep praying for all the Christians who have been arrested, and for their families. In recent months, there have been several instances of released prisoners being re-arrested on vague charges.

‘Hijab enforcers’

More broadly, women are being targeted if they are not wearing the hijab. The Iranian government are putting renewed effort into reinforcing this mandatory head covering for women, and have hired 400 veiled women as ‘hijab enforcers’ to prevent unveiled women from entering the subway. If the women resist, they are handed over to police. This is understandably very intimidating. Women have few rights within Iranian law, and are particularly vulnerable if they have converted from Islam to Christianity. Many feel torn about whether or not to wear the hijab after choosing to follow Jesus – and, if they choose not to, it is a very public declaration of their new faith that can make them targets for persecution.

This new wave of social policing isn’t really a surprise with the month of September approaching. September 2022 marked the beginning of nationwide protests which rocked Iran after Mahsa Amini died while she was in custody for ‘improper’ wearing of Islamic head covering.

Christians and members of other religious minorities, such as the Baha’is, are particularly being targeted in this wave of crackdowns. Iran is number eight on the World Watch List, and this surge of persecution is discouraging to the nation’s believers.

Please pray

Our brothers and sisters in Iran need our prayers in this difficult time.

Pray for the Christians who are detained, that God gives them the strength needed to hold on tight to Him and may they be released very soon.

Pray for those who are forced to leave their country when they haven’t done anything wrong.

Pray for the man who was fired from his job in today’s awful economy and situation. We believe that our Lord provides.

Pray for all the Christians who remain and continue to serve God in this land, that God would keep them hopeful as they shine in this darkness. May they feel His presence in their lives.

Pray for the protection of our brothers and sisters as this crackdown continues, especially with September 2023 approaching – may we witness a miracle in this country, very soon.

At least 69 Christians arrested in fresh crackdown on believers in Iran

10 August 2023

It’s now emerged that at least 69 Christians have been arrested in the fresh crackdown on believers in Iran. 

These took place across 11 cities – Tehran, Karaj, Rasht, Orumiyeh and Aligoudarz, Isfahan, Shiraz, Semnan, Garmsar, Varamin and Eslamshahr – between 1 June and 17 July. At least ten of these (four men, six women) remain held. 

Among those released, it’s reported that this is on the condition that they refrain from Christian activities or attend Islamic re-education classes. Some have been summoned for further questioning or even forced to leave Iran. One said he has lost job at the request of the authorities. Bail amounts are between 400 million and two billion tomans (about £6,300 to £31,500).

Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters affected by this wave of arrests. 

Source: Article 18

Fresh crackdown on Christians in Iran with arrests of more than 50 converts

19 July 2023

Your urgent prayers are needed following the arrests of more than 50 Christian converts in a wave of incidents over the past seven days in Iran, and there are fears this could rise. 

This fresh and aggressive crackdown on believers in their homes and house churches has occurred in five different Iranian cities: Tehran, Karaj, Rasht, Orumiyeh and Aligoudarz. At least 51 are believed to remain in detention, whilst others have been released on bail.

Morality police return to the streets – with greater aggression 

It’s unclear what accounts for this crackdown, but it coincides with the morality police being more visible and aggressive on the streets, having withdrawn to an extent following the protests that emerged in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death whilst in custody in September 2022.   

“The reason for this sudden surge in nationwide arrests of Christians is not clear at this stage,” says Mansour Borji, advocacy director for Article 18, which lobbies for Christian freedom in Iran. “What is obvious is that Iran has begun a fresh crackdown on civil liberties, and the traditionally vulnerable groups, like Christians, are on the front line of those targeted.”

Highlighting the return of the morality police to Iran’s streets, he added that ‘overall there seems to be a renewed or more aggressive crackdown on groups the regime feels threatened by’.

The news comes after it emerged that Pastor Nadarkhani – whom many of you have been praying for – has had new charges levelled at him, just months after being released from prison. 

House churches viewed as a threat

Iran is number eight on the World Watch List, with the latest report, released earlier this year, highlighting a slight increase in persecution against Christians. The country is ruled by an increasingly strict Islamic regime, which views the existence of Iranian house churches as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and their authority. This is why many of the charges levelled against Christians centre around crimes ‘against national security’. 

Thank you for your continued support for Iranian sisters and brothers. Please continue to uphold them in prayer. 

Please pray
  • For an end to this crackdown and the sudden arrests, and that all those arrested will be freed without charge
  • That those in prison will be guarded from harm and that they, and their families, will feel God’s close presence with them
  • That the authorities’ hearts towards Christians will soften and that there will be greater religious freedom in Iran.
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