As thousands of women and men in Iran take part in protests after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, Iranian Christians ask the global church to be their voice and to pray for the nation.
Open Doors urges the Iranian government to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief for all
In the wake of the protests in Iran surrounding the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, Open Doors – along with members of the Iranian Christian diaspora in the UK – condemns the ‘systematic oppression of women and the widespread violation of human rights in Iran’.
Mahsa was detained by the country's morality police for wearing ‘improper’ hijab and fell into a coma on 13 September while in police custody. She died in hospital three days later.
Article18, a charity dedicated to the protection and promotion of religious freedom in Iran, says it stands in solidarity with the bereaved family of Mahsa Amini.
In a statement issued alongside the Hamgaam Council of United Iranian Churches and the Pars Theological Centre, Article18 said: “We, like many of the people in Iran who have protested in the city streets with unparalleled courage following Mahsa’s death, consider the imposition of mandatory hijab on the people of Iran – representing a range of religious, ethnic and cultural identities – an obvious violation of human rights, and demand an end to this and other discriminatory laws.
“‘We are all Mahsas’, and ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ are among the slogans of the brave women and men of Iran, reminding us that we are all together, regardless of ethnicity, religion, language or belief, in this fight against the shared pain of injustice, oppression and religious dictatorship, as well as our hope for life, freedom and equality.”
The case at hand unveils a broader issue of Iran’s gross violations of international norms on freedom of expression, women’s rights and freedom of religion or belief, which affects many religious groups in Iran, including Christians.
Since the Iranian government has shut down the internet, Iranian Christians are asking the global church as the body of Christ to be their voice.
Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, says: “The Iranian regime has one of the worst human rights records of state persecution in the world. Christians in Iran will only be able to enjoy their religious rights if the rights of the whole population of Iran are honoured. Christians both in and outside the country are joining in the demonstrations. Everyone is supporting Iran’s struggle for freedom. We are hopeful for a change.”
“Persecution is on the rise in Iran but despite this, we also see the growth of the church,” she adds. “Iranian Christians are not alone.”
The restrictions on religious freedom in Iran affect Christians there in many ways, including harsh limitations on places of worship. Christian gatherings in private homes have been denounced as ‘illegal groups’ and believers caught at these gatherings are frequently arrested for ‘crimes against national security’, often resulting in long prison sentences.
Open Doors urges the Iranian government to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief for all, which involves ceasing to impose the obligation on women to abide to an interpretation of religious clothing that might not align with their own religion or belief.
Lord Jesus, pour out Your peace and justice on Iran today. Comfort Mahsa Amini’s family as they grieve and seek answers about her death. Protect protestors from violence – help them to make their voices heard and so bring about greater freedom of religion or belief in the country. Help the church in Iran to unite in prayer and be a beacon of hope to their communities during this turbulent time. Amen.
Register today to join us for this year’s International Day of Prayer (IDOP) for the persecuted church webinar, hosted online with our friends at the Evangelical Alliance, Release International and CSW. We’ll hear updates from the Middle East, China and Cuba, and pray into the Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) Ministerial that took place in July.
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