THE persecution of Christians is set to intensify in Iran, after the election of a new President, Ebrahim Raisi, Release International warned this week.
Mr Raisi, the head of the Iranian judiciary, endorsed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, was elected on Saturday after a record low turnout of 48.8 per cent. Many reformers and moderates were barred from standing.
Amnesty International has documented the new President’s involvement in a “death commission”, which “forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret thousands of political dissidents” in prisons near Tehran in 1988, and says that he has presided over “a spiralling crackdown on human rights” in recent years,
“This victory for the hardliners will mean hardship for the Church,” the CEO of Release International, Paul Robinson, said on Monday. “They are likely to intensify their crackdown against Christians, who are often regarded as enemies of the state.”
On Monday, three Christians from the Church of Iran stood trial in Karaj, northern Iran, charged with “sectarian activities” under a new amendment to the Iranian penal code. It states that “any deviant education or propaganda that contradicts or interferes with the sacred Islamic shari’a, will be severely punished.” Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that the three men — Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi, and Alireza Nourmohammadi — are all from Muslim backgrounds. They had to defend themselves after the presiding judge said that their lawyer was unregistered — something denied by CSW’s sources.
CSW is calling on Iran to repeal the new law and “end the relentless campaign of harassment of Christians and other religious minorities through the judicial system”.