Ignoring and Reaffirming Iran’s Religious Persecutions

While obviously focused on persecution of Christian minorities in the Middle East, the group claims to also be concerned about all religious persecution throughout the world, and is hosting a summit in Washington DC from September 9 to 11, ostensibly on both of those topics.

But CAMERA found that for reasons unknown, the website for “In Defense of Christians” initially made no mention of Iran, in spite of the obvious plight of both Christians and other religious minorities in the country. Data for Iran was added to the site in recent days, but it appears to deliberately understate the extent of Christian persecution in the Islamic Republic, noting that there have been “some persecutions” even though the “recognized Christian minorities” are guaranteed some rights under the constitution.

There is still no clear explanation for this soft assessment of the state of religious tolerance under the Iranian regime. It certainly cannot be explained by appealing to the facts regarding treatment of religious minorities, as is underscored by a report released Thursday by Small Media. Titled “Heretics: Iran’s Religious Minorities,” the document looks at the situation facing Baha’is, Evangelical Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Armenian Orthodox Christians, and Minority Muslims.

Small Media observes that “at best, Iran’s religious minority communities are reduced to second-class citizenship; at worst, they are imprisoned, exiled, or sentenced to death.” With this in mind, the report calls for the Iranian government to release all persons imprisoned for exercising their faith, to institute more binding legal protections, and to free up information currently restricted to members of these communities.

The report also offers recommendations for the international community, including the recommendations that they coordinate the various persecuted minorities, help them to access and effectively utilize communications technologies, and increase their visibility both at home and abroad.