Persian-speaking Christians in Iran have nowhere to go – nowhere to meet, to worship and to pray together, that is.
Although Iran is a signatory to international agreements on freedom of religion, there is no freedom in that country for Persian-speaking Christians.
The only churches allowed to exist in Iran are those for the recognised Armenian and Assyrian minorities. Persian-speaking Christians, however, are not allowed to attend these. But neither can they run church meetings in their own language. Their only option is to meet in each other’s homes – but the Iranian regime views membership of such groupings as an “action against national security”, something which is punishable by prison sentence.
Two Iranian converts who were imprisoned in 2019 – Behnam Akhlaghi and Babak Hosseinzadeh – have now initiated a campaign aimed at securing the right of Persian-speaking Christians to have a place to worship freely and collectively.
This has prompted a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is calling for:
- Clarification on where Persian-speaking Christians can gather to worship freely without risking harassment and imprisonment on excessive charges;
- The unconditional release of Christian prisoners of conscience currently incarcerated or exiled for peacefully practising their religious belief;
- An end to the on-going crackdown on house-churches, their leaders and attendees, and to all raids, arrests, prosecutions, imprisonments, and other forms of mistreatment against them.
Release International has added its name to the list of Christian organisations who are supporting this initiative.
Do please pray for this campaign. In particular, pray:
- that Persian-speaking Christians would be given places to worship;
- that the campaign will reach, and be heard by, many people, both inside and outside of Iran;
- that the Iranian government would be forced to answer the question: “Where can they worship?”;
- that those imprisoned for their Christian faith would be released;
- for the safety of Behnam, Babak and their families;
- for the government crackdown on Persian-speaking Christians to cease.