Published: 00:01 GMT Standard Time - Thursday 24 March 2011
Lent Prayer - Iran
Project(s): 19-940, 19-886
Country/Region: Iran, Middle East and North Africa
In November 2010 an Iranian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, was sentenced to death for apostasy. Born to Muslim parents, he became a Christian aged 19 and had been active in ministry among a network of house churches in the north of the country. Converting from Islam is not a crime under Iranian law, but judges can still impose the death penalty on the basis of Islamic law and fatwas. At the time of writing Nadarkhani is awaiting the result of an appeal against his sentence.
|An Iranian Christian convert from Islam is baptised at a conference in Sweden funded by Barnabas|
This case is only the most serious in a growing campaign by the Iranian government against Christian converts. Dissatisfaction with Islam, produced by 30 years of life under a totalitarian Islamic regime, is helping to turn many people to Christ, and the government seems to regard the scale of conversion as a serious problem. Converts have to practise their faith mainly in secret, often in house churches. In 2009 and 2010 many were arrested and detained for various periods, apparently to intimidate them into abandoning their new faith or fleeing the country.
Although Christianity has protected status in the Iranian constitution, all Christians (including those in the historic churches) are subject to discrimination in many areas of life, including employment, education and the law. The authorities keep a close watch on events and activities run by the churches, and evangelism among Muslims is strictly forbidden. A number of prominent Christian leaders have been attacked, and several murdered.
The number of Christians in Iran is estimated at less than 1% of the population. Since the 1979 revolution the country has been an Islamic Republic, and Shia Islam is the state religion. Some observers believe that the long-term goal of the present government is to expel the entire Christian population.
Barnabas Fund projects in Iran include:
This article is taken from
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