Skip to content

Will protests in Iran bring religious freedom for Christians?

By Michelle La Rosa
1/3/2018 (1 week ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ongoing protests in Iran could be a sign of hope for repressed religious minorities, if protesters demand that conscience rights be respected, said an Iranian-born journalist who converted to Catholicism in 2016.

Protests have rocked Iran, which many hope will result in concessions from the hardline regime, but most experts think changes are unlikely.

Protests have rocked Iran, which many hope will result in concessions from the hardline regime, but most experts think changes are unlikely.

Highlights

By Michelle La Rosa
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
1/3/2018 (1 week ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Persecuted Christians, Catholic News, Iran


Tehran, Iran (CNA/EWTN News) - Although most of those protesting in the streets of Iran were born after the 1979 revolution that led to the current Islamist regime, "many of them are chanting nostalgic slogans about the pre-revolutionary era," noted Sohrab Ahmari.

"At the time Iran was no democracy," he said, but the pre-revolution regime "was far less repressive and people retained many personal and social liberties, if not political ones."

 Ahmari was born in Tehran. He has lived in the United States for two decades and worked for the Wall Street Journal for several years before becoming a senior writer for Commentary magazine.

Ahmari spoke to CNA on Jan. 2, as Iranians protesting economic and social grievances flooded the streets of the Middle Eastern country.
 Since the current round of protests erupted on Dec. 28, at least 21 people have died and 450 been arrested, CNN reports.

The protests are the largest in the country since the 2009 Green Movement, when thousands rallied in opposition to a presidential election they claimed was fraudulent.

The Iranian government has responded to the current demonstrations by sending out riot police and restricting access to internet and social media.

The protests began over economic issues. A year after sanctions against Iran were lifted by the United States, United Nations, and European Union, citizens of the Middle Eastern nation have yet to see the economic recovery that many had expected. Unemployment among the youth is high, and food and gasoline prices have risen significantly.

However, as the protests have grown, so have the grievances, with signs and slogans opposing what many see as a corrupt regime that suppresses the civil rights of its people.

"I don't think you can separate the economic from the political," Reza Marashi, research director for the National Iranian American Council, told CNN.

Ahmari agreed that the nation's unrest shows a deep-seated discontent.

"The Iranians who are pouring into the streets have had it with an ideological regime that represses them and can't even delivery basic economic security," he said.

And while life is difficult for every Iranian, the situation for Christians and other religious minorities is particularly perilous, Ahmari told CNA.

"They are systematically discriminated against, are barred from various public offices and military posts, are prohibited by law from proselytizing, and so on."

The regime does grant Christians and Jews a certain level of "second-class protection" as "People of the Book," Ahmari said, but even this "limited protection only applies to the likes of Armenians and Assyrians, who are considered indigenous Christians."

Converts are not protected, he said, because Sharia law -- which is the foundation of Iran's penal code -- views apostasy from Islam as a crime punishable by death.

While the regime generally does not formally charge Christian converts with apostasy, Ahmari said, "it routinely harasses them, monitors and raids their house churches, and arrests and imprisons their pastors on trumped-up 'national-security' charges."

Nearly a week after the start of the protests, it remains to be seen what effect they will have, if any. But Ahmari is hopeful that any changes in the government will include a greater respect for religious minorities.

Life before the 1979 revolution that brought Sharia law to the country "wasn't ideal," he acknowledged.

"(B)ut minorities thrived, and there was a sense that Iranian-ness wasn't just about Shiite Islam but also incorporated pre-Islamic elements. Jews, Christians, Baha'i and others belonged to this identity. They were tolerated and even celebrated," he said.

"If the protesters can recover something of that inclusive nationalism, then Christians and other ethnic and sectarian minorities will be better off than they are now." 

Light Your Prayer Candle Now

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for JANUARY 2018
Religious Minorities in Asia.
That Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practise their faith in full freedom.


Comments


More Middle East

Will protests in Iran bring religious freedom for Christians? Watch

Image of Protests have rocked Iran, which many hope will result in concessions from the hardline regime, but most experts think changes are unlikely.

Ongoing protests in Iran could be a sign of hope for repressed religious minorities, if protesters demand that conscience rights be ... continue reading


2,700-year-old seal discovered in Jerusalem confirms Biblical truth Watch

Image of The seal may have been used as a souvenir or to accompany special, important documents.

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of a Biblical-era seal in Jerusalem. The 2,700-year-old artifact once belonged to a governor of ... continue reading


Suicide bomber kills 8 at church in Pakistan Watch

Image of A suicide bomber killed eight people at a Methodist church in Pakistan.

At least eight churchgoers were killed and another 30 injured in a double suicide bomber attack at a Methodist church in southwest ... continue reading


Vatican concerned over President Trump's decision in Israel Watch

Image of U.S. President, Donald Trump announced he would be moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Following U.S. President Donald Trump's Dec. 6 notice that he will be moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Holy See has ... continue reading


Pope Francis opposes Trump plan to move embassy to Jerusalem Watch

Image of President Trump has announced the U.S. embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

President Trump is announcing that the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel will soon be moved to Jerusalem, which is the actual capital of ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.