Iran Denies ‘Systematic Persecution’ of Christians

Photo Credit: Mostafa Meraji

(Article18) Iran has denied systematically persecuting Christians, in response to a formal enquiry by six senior UN rights experts.

In a letter dated Nov. 11 but only made public after Iran failed to respond within the 60-day deadline, the experts – including the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed, and special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman – expressed “serious concern” over “numerous” reports of “continued systematic persecution” of Christians, “particularly discriminatory practices and violations of their human rights.”

Iran has since written a response, denying all accusations of improper conduct and claiming “nobody is prosecuted on religious grounds.” Instead, Iran says it has taken legal action against members of “enemy groups” and “private churches” (house-churches), which it accuses of belonging to a “Zionist Christian cult” with “anti-security purposes.”

The rapporteurs name 24 Iranian Christians reported by organizations including Article18 to be either currently in prison or awaiting summonses, and include details of each case.

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