Christians risk arrest if they join protests

(Photo: Unsplash/Omid Armin)

A year on from the death of Mahsa Amini, Christians in Iran are being warned to stay clear of protests or else risk arrest.

Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Amini. The 22 year old died soon after being arrested by Iran's morality police for not wearing the hijab in accordance with the country's strict dress code for women.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) outlined the risks for those who take part in the women's rights protests sparked by her death. 

USCIRF Commissioner Susie Gelman told CBN: "Christians report that they're getting pressure from the government not to participate in the protests. If they do and they're arrested, they are sexually assaulted in prison."

The commission reports that laws against so-called honour killings have been relaxed in Iran, leaving women and girls who convert away from Islam even more vulnerable. The relaxation of the laws puts Christians at even greater risk of attack from their families for leaving behind the Shia faith. 

A report from USCIRF published in September included the account of one Armenian Christian woman who said she was sexually assaulted in the notorious Evin prison after being detained during hijab protests last year. 

The interrogator told her, "You thought that because you're a Christian you can do whatever you want and remove the hijab." 

Hundreds of protesters have been killed by the regime and at least seven executed after 'sham trials', according to estimates.

Release International, which supports persecuted Christians, says that religious minorities have been "swept up" in the violence against protesters.

Some 69 Christians were arrested in raids carried out in 11 cities during the month of August. Another 50 were detained the month before.

Arrests have continued despite a November 2021 Supreme Court ruling that Christians who attend house churches should not be considered a threat to national security or enemies of the state. 

"The freedom movement in Iran has been gathering momentum. And the most powerful freedom of them all, the cornerstone of all freedoms, is the freedom of religion or belief," said Release CEO Paul Robinson.

"Release International is supporting Christians in the house church movement in Iran and continues to call on the Iranian authorities to allow full freedom of faith for all its citizens.

"We are heartened that the Supreme Court has begun to recognise that Christians cannot be considered enemies of the state and should not be criminalised.

"This message has yet to reach to the heights of government in Iran and filter down to those who continue to persecute and arrest Christians."

Republished from Christian Today UK.