A U.N. special report on persecuted religious minorities in Iran has found that the Baha'i faith is the most targeted in the Islamic country, and it has warned that further economic sanctions may make life more difficult also for all people in Iran.
"By and large I would say the Baha'is are the most persecuted religious minority in Iran," Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Iran said before a seminar at the International Peace Institute in New York on Monday.
As both President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney made clear in Monday night's foreign policy debate, they plan to impose further sanctions on Iran to make it more difficult for the Middle Eastern country to acquire nuclear weapon capabilities. However, Shaheed has warned that this would also have harsh consequences for everyday Iranians, as they will suffer from a lack of accessible medicine and other basic human needs. more >>
Authorities in Iran's Fars Province arrested seven Christians in a church raid on Friday, even as five other Christian converts who were detained eight months ago from the same province will face trial on Monday. Over 300 Christians have been arbitrarily arrested and detained over the last two years.
Security personnel on Friday evening raided a house church belonging to the Church of Iran denomination in the city of Shiraz, and detained seven Christians, U.K.-based charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported.
The seven, identified as Mohammad (Vahid) Roghangir, Suroush Saraie, Roxana Forughi, Eskandar Rezaie, Bijan Haghighi, Mehdi Ameruni and Shahin Lahooti, were being held in Plaque 100, the Intelligence Ministry's notorious detention center. more >>
Reports from various human rights organizations Tuesday indicate that Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, the human rights lawyer responsible for defending Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, has started serving a nine-year prison sentence for allegedly acting against national security and spreading propaganda.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which closely followed Pastor Nadarkhani's court case and is likewise following Dadkhah's case, says that because Dadkhah represents his clients free of charge, he is being accused of "aiding and abetting" in the alleged crimes of his clients.
"In a world where persecution on the basis of faith is escalating, we must also stand with those who defend our fundamental freedoms," Tiffany Barrans, International Legal Director for the ACLJ, told The Christian Post in an emailed statement. "As the world awakened to the realities of religious persecution in Iran when the masses fought for Pastor Youcef's freedom, we must now shift our attention to defend those who defend the persecuted." more >>
Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was released Sept. 8 after three years imprisonment, issued a letter shortly after his new-found freedom, thanking his supporters and God for helping him through his difficult journey.
Nadarkhani begins his Sept. 8 "thank you" letter, made available by persecution watchdog Present Truth Ministries, by offering his gratitude for those who prayed for him during his imprisonment. He then goes on to describe the challenges he faced during his three years in Iranian prisons.
"Indeed I have been put to the test, the test of faith which is, according to the Scripture, 'more precious than perishable gold,'" Nadarkhani writes. more >>
While Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has recently been freed from three years of imprisonment, his lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, continues to face the threat of a nine-year prison sentence for his past involvement in human rights cases.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which has closely followed the cases of both Nadarkhani and Dadkhah, says that now is the time for the international community to turn its focus to Dadkhah, as he is one of many human rights lawyers who face imprisonment in Iran.
"It is important to remember that after the press subsides on Pastor Youcef's story, his lawyer, a dedicated servant, remains under this threat. Numerous human rights lawyers in Iran are already imprisoned. We will continue to speak out on the numerous human rights abuses in Iran, including those that the attorneys who defend prisoners of conscience face," the ACLJ said of Dadkhah, who legally represented Nadarkhani at his Sept. 8 hearing. more >>
Prominent evangelical leaders whose advocacy efforts helped make Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani into an international poster face for religious freedom are rejoicing over his recent release from prison but are now asking Christians to stay vigilant in supporting the rights of persecuted religious minorities worldwide. The leader of the largest evangelical group in the U.S. says Christians should "pray and press for more outcomes like this."
In a statement on Monday, the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents 45,000 evangelical churches in the United States, welcomed the encouraging news about Nadarkhani. NAE President Leith Anderson said he is praying for similar results in other countries.
"We are relieved for Pastor Nadarkhani, and pleased with this good decision of the Iranian government," said Anderson. "We watch as laws are increasingly being used by governments against religious minorities, and we pray and press for more outcomes like this." more >>