By Martin Roth
Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom reports that “Iran is widening its persecution of minorities.” He adds that “minorities are growing because many Muslims reject their rulers’ version of Islam.”
I have already linked to an article, “Freedom under threat: Christians in Iran continue to be persecuted by the regime” by British Member of Parliament Stephen Timms. He says that “Iran has a population of 74 million. Nobody knows how many are Christians, but the number appears to be growing fast. Some think it could be as high as 1.5 million.”
These are some of the most persecuted Christians on earth. Late last year a British parliamentary group published a report on the persecution of Christians in Iran. Here are a few of the brief testimonies contained in this chilling document.
* On one occasion Farshid [Farshid Fathi, an Iranian church leader who has been imprisoned since December 2010] was told to pack his few belongings and was led out to the prison gate, where he could see other inmates being released. However, on approaching the gate Farshid was suddenly stopped and returned to his cell. Such forms of psychological torture are used routinely within Iran’s prison system.
* Sometimes the daily interrogation sessions would run from 8am until 11pm. They had a strategy: there were always two people who came to interrogate me; one was tough and harsh and the other was reasonable and trying to reason with me about my faith. They wanted the identities of the members of my churches. They would threaten me by saying things like “we have your wife captive” and then telling me that if I cooperated with them, they would help me.
* The house churches, they have to be hidden from the Government. If the Government finds out, or any neighbour informs the Government, they will definitely, immediately attack and arrest all of them. Last Christmas they attacked many of these house groups and arrested over 100 people who were praying and having fellowship and worshipping God. Some of them even now are there in prison.
I said that these are some of the most persecuted Christians on earth. Yet Iran only makes it to No. 8 on the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted for their faith. Tragically, conditions are even worse for many, many more of our brothers and sisters.