Christians in Iran are suffering from a surge in religious persecution, according to the non-profit human rights and religious freedom organization called “Article 18.”

According to the 40-page report released by the London-based NGO in February – Faceless Victims: Rights Violations Against Christians in Iran – the Christian minority living under the Iranian regime is subject to whippings, arrests, imprisonment, surveillance and harassment for practicing their faith.

“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 Article 18 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.”

Article 18 is dedicated to the protection and promotion of religious freedom in Iran and advocates on behalf of the Islamic State’s persecuted Christians.

Rev. Johnnie Moore, an influential Evangelical leader, is the president of the Congress of Christian Leaders. Moore also serves as a member on ALL ARAB NEEWS Advisory Board.

He condemned the U.S. State Department for its policy regarding Iran and how it endangers the Christian minority living in the ayatollah regime.

“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,” Moore told Fox Digital News.

“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 said the Iranian government 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.”

“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,” Moore noted.

A U.S. 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 referred to a recent U.S. State Department report on International Religious Freedom in Iran, which stated that Iranian “officials continued to disproportionately arrest, detain, harass, and surveil Christians, particularly evangelicals and other converts from Islam, according to Christian NGOs.”

“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 spokesperson affirmed.

The Article 18 report included reports of violence against Christians, including a testimony by Ali Kazemian who was quoted saying his interrogators discovered he had a metal implant in his left leg from “an historic break” and that “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,” Kazemian stated.

He also said that security forces threatened to harm his family.

“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 ruthlessly targeted every facet of Christianity, from Protestants to Catholics, according to the report, which was released in collaboration with Open Doors, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Middle East Concern. These organizations ardently advocate for the freedom of Christians globally to practice their faith without fear of persecution.

The report estimated there may be as many 800,000 Christians in Iran based on a 2020 survey conducted by a secular Netherlands-based research group that revealed about 1.5% of Iranians self-identified as Christians.”

One Iranian Christian, Sheina Vojoudi, told Fox News Digital that “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.”

The report stated that Vojoudi converted to Christianity and fled Iran to Germany to escape persecution. Today she is an associate fellow for the U.S.-based Gold Institute for International Strategy.

“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,” she said.

She noted that the persecution of Christians within the regime began escalating as early as 2009, coinciding with the Green Revolution movement and the widely disputed election of then-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.

According to the Article 18 report: “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 owning a Bible in Iran is illegal and to this day Iranian authorities destroyed 300 Persian Bibles and confiscated 650 others. In addition, intelligence agencies declared a ban on preaching in the Persian language in churches.

“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,” she said.

Because of the dangerous situation faced by Iranian Christians, they have established an underground movement and resorted to meeting in “house churches.”

Vojoudi said Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei issued a statement emphasizing the “importance of confronting the house churches” and incited his followers against Christians by referring to them as ‘enemies of Islam’ that “must be thwarted.”

Source » allarab