The U.S. and EU should stand up for persecuted Iranian Christians

According to official statistics, the Islamic Republic is home to 117,700 Christians, although the real number is probably closer to 350,000. The regime, while never tolerant of non-Muslims, seems lately to have intensified its anti-Christian policies. Earlier this month, twelve Iranians were reportedly each sentenced to a year in prison for “propagating against the Islamic Republic in favor of Christianity.” Julie Lenarz and Benjamin Weinthal note some other examples, and urge the West to take action:

Last year, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested two Christians—a mother and her son—as part of a vicious crackdown on Catholicism in the country’s West Azerbaijan Province. . . . Iranian authorities regularly arrest worshippers, raid house churches, and confiscate Bibles, Christian CDs and other religious literature while regime-controlled media outlets spread anti-Christian propaganda.

Four evangelical Christians were arrested in May 2017 and sentenced each to ten years in prison for house-church activities and evangelism. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani stood trial in July along with three co-defendants because of their house-church activities. They were all sentenced to ten years in prison. It is worth recalling that Nadarkhani was sentenced to death in 2010 for his conversion to Christianity. After a global pressure campaign ensued, Iran’s regime released him from prison, after a three-year incarceration. . . .

The 125,000-member-strong IRGC has a long record of brutality targeting Christians and democracy movements opposed to the mullahs’ regime. The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in October 2017. Europe, so far, has declined to sanction the IRGC for its blatant human-rights violations.

To isolate Iran’s clerical leaders—and hold those accountable for grave human-rights violations—the EU and U.S. should impose a potent round of human-rights sanctions on regime officials persecuting Iranian Christians. The Islamic Republic remains highly vulnerable when a spotlight is shined on its widespread repression of religious freedom. If past is prologue, new human-rights sanctions and global pressure can save the lives of persecuted Iranian Christians.

Source » mosaicmagazine

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