‘We want to be the voice of Iranian Christian converts to the international community’

‘We want to be the voice of Iranian Christian converts to the international community’

The group’s latest protest took place outside the Iranian embassy in Stockholm on 1 June.

A group of Iranian Christian converts now living in Sweden say they want to be the voice of their fellow converts to the international community.

One of the organisers of the “I am a Christian too” campaign, which has staged regular protest rallies in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, since October 2020, told Article18 they want to “be the voice of this sector of the Iranian society that the government is trying to marginalise, silence and isolate”.

Speaking after the group’s latest protest outside the Iranian embassy in Stockholm last week, Amir Hossein Jaafari said: “We want to raise awareness and ask the Swedish government and international human rights community to make the Iranian State accountable for rights violations of religious minorities, and particularly Iranian Christian converts.”

Mr Jaafari further called on Sweden to “stop its contradiction between words and actions, by holding the religious government of Iran accountable for violating human rights, and also working hard to inform the Swedish society about the deplorable human rights situation in Iran”.

“In particular, we ask the Swedish government to prioritise the human rights of religious minorities in Iran over Sweden’s economic interests,” he said.

He noted that “the persecution of the Iranian converts continues and, according to reports, in recent months, two Iranian Christians were flogged for drinking wine as part of Communion, others were denied education or employment, and one couple were told they could no longer retain custody of their adopted daughter on account of their faith.”

The group’s protests have been covered by international Persian-speaking media outlets including Radio Farda and Iran International

And Mr Jaafari said their persistence in spite of Covid-19 restrictions has meant that “today more Iranian Christians from Stockholm and even surrounding cities have joined the campaign”. 

The protesters also marched from a main Stockholm square to the parliament.

Christianity is a recognised minority religion in Iran, but Christian converts aren’t recognised as Christians and are prohibited from attending the services of Iran’s recognised ethnic Armenian and Assyrian Christians.

As a result, Iran’s converts, of whom there are believed to be at least several hundred thousand, have to choose between practising their faith alone at home, or taking the risk to join a house-church, which the Iranian regime refers to as “enemy groups” with “anti-security purposes”.

(In reality, house-churches look very similar to the “house groups” Christians around the world belong to, simply providing a place for Christians to meet together to worship and pray.)

These house-churches are regularly raided by intelligence agents of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence or Revolutionary Guard Corps, and members arrested and charged with “actions against national security”. There are currently at least 20 Iranian Christians in prison or exile as a result of their membership of a house-church. Several others are awaiting the result of court cases against them, while many more have fled abroad to avoid imprisonment or the threat of further persecution.

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