by Jordan Hilger, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - The thinning oxygen in the atmosphere for Iran’s religious minorities came to light Friday with the State Department’s release of its 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom, which detailed the level of suppression suffered by Christians and Baha’i under the Ayatollahs.
The report explained how Iranian law permits little to no room for conversions away from Islam, while giving ample interpretive license to judges to construe conversions as offenses against the country’s majority faith—a penalty deserving of death in Iran.
Capital punishment in Iran, according to the report, is “for proselytizing and attempts by non-Muslims to convert Muslims, as well as for moharebeh (‘enmity against God’) and sabb al-nabi (‘insulting the Prophet’),” making Christians who hold to the basic tenets of their faith easy targets.
As illustrations of Iranian law in action, the report further detailed cases of Christians imprisoned for their faith, such as Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammad Reza Omidi, who were sentenced to 10 years in prison for “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionist Christianity” in their capacity as house church leaders.
“Any [Christian]...who cannot prove that his or her family was Christian prior to 1979,” moreover, “is considered Muslim,” meaning that Omidi, Fadaie, and Mossayebzadeh were also sentenced to 80 lashes in 2016 for their consumption of communion wine, alcohol consumption being permitted for “Muslims” only within prescribed religious contexts.
Iran came in at number 9 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List 2019 for Christian persecution, with a 2016 UK Home Office Report having uncovered over 71 kinds of torture in use at the country’s notorious Evin Prison, where many of its Christians are holed up.