A joint report by five organisations, including APPG stakeholders Middle East Concern, Open Doors and CSW, highlights ongoing violations of religious freedom and discrimination against religious minorities in Iran.
In the report, submitted to the UN’s Human Rights Commission in preparation for its next session of meetings, the organisations call on the commission to ask Iran to clarify its commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The covenant, which Iran signed nearly 45 years ago, affirms freedom of religion and discrimination.
Iran’s constitution guarantees religious freedom to Christian Iranians, but in practice this applies only to Assyrian and Armenian Christians, whom Iran’s considers to be part of its historical-cultural heritage.
There are multiple ways in which the government makes life for minority religions difficult, says the joint report issued by Open Doors, Middle East Concern, Article18, CSW and the World Evangelical Alliance.
It highlights five of them:
- Christian churches are forbidden to hold services or publish books in the native Farsi language.
- Minority churches are prosecuted as a threat to national security.
- Leaving Islam is legal under Iranian law, but converts have been prosecuted for such acts, and ‘non-codified law’ such as authoritative Islamic sources and fatwas has been used to prosecute.
- Even some traditional and recognized churches have had their property confiscated or forcibly closed.
- Christians and other religious minorities face discrimination in who they can marry, how they inherit, and their access to higher education and government employment.
“The persecution of Christians in Iran is one of the most obvious cases of state repression, but they are not the only ones whose freedoms are restricted by the regime. Therefore, the rights of Iran’s religious minorities will not be respected until those of the majority are as well,” said an OD spokesperson for the Middle East region.