Iran remains among world’s worst persecutors of Christians

Iran remains among world’s worst persecutors of Christians

It was on this day 28 years ago that one of Iran’s most senior Protestant church leaders, ethnic Armenian Christian Haik Hovsepian, disappeared, later to be found stabbed to death.

Nearly three decades on, and although the killing of senior Christian figures in Iran has abated, the relentless pressure on the Church continues, as highlighted today by Iran’s presence, once again, among the top 10 worst persecutors of Christians on Open Doors International’s World Watch List.

Iran ranks at number 9 this year, down from number 8 in 2021, but Open Doors’ researchers are at pains to point out that this apparent minor improvement reflects only the further degradation in the situation of Christians in other countries and not any improvement in the situation for Christians in Iran.

“The 1 point drop in score [from 86/100 to 85/100] was in reality a 0.3 point drop,” the researchers note, “so for all intents and purposes the score and situation has remained much the same as in WWL 2021. The outlook for Iranian Christians, in particular converts from Islam to Christianity, is by no means improving.

“The election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi as president and the amendment and tightening of the penal code is all part of a wider development towards Iran becoming a totalitarian state.

“State surveillance is on the rise and the authorities are increasingly exerting a firmer grip on daily life and activities. The scores in all spheres of life are at an extreme level.”

Iran has consistently been among the top 10 persecutors, and is one of just 11 countries where the persecution of Christians is ranked as “extreme”, alongside Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and Saudi Arabia.

You can see the full list here.