The Islamic Republic of Iran sentenced four Iranian Christians to 80 lashes for drinking wine for communion.
Fox News in a broadcast today explored the rise of Islamic-animated attacks against Christians and other believers of non-Muslim faiths. Peter Johnson Jr. called what is happening in the Middle East and Africa “literally a fight for faith.” The show asked: Why is religious persecution going unreported?
The latest example of Iran’s medieval judiciary system targeting Christians coincided with the U.N.’s new report on the dire situation of religious and ethnic minorities in the Muslim-majority country. These are extremely tough times for Iranian Christians.
Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, reported this week that, “at least 20 Christians were in custody in July 2013. In addition, violations of the rights of Christians, particularly those belonging to evangelical Protestant groups, many of whom are converts, who proselytize to and serve Iranian Christians of Muslim background, continue to be reported.”
His excellent report noted that “authorities continue to compel licensed Protestant churches to restrict Persian-speaking and Muslim-born Iranians from participating in services, and raids and forced closures of house churches are ongoing . . . More than 300 Christians have been arrested since 2010, and dozens of church leaders and active community members have reportedly been convicted of national security crimes in connection with church activities, such as organizing prayer groups, proselytizing and attending Christian seminars abroad.”
Put simply, Shaheed’s investigation reveals a vile record of human-rights violations in all walks of Iranian life.
All of this should draw ridicule on the Obama administration’s inability to secure an enforceable agreement to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear-weapons program. Iran’s mullah regime does not serve the interests of ordinary Iranians but the preservation of its Khomeinist revolution and its military/terrorist apparatus. Its lethal anti-Americanism has resulted in the deaths of U.S soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.
According to the New York Times, Iran plans a “Down with U.S.A” conference next month. The conference solicited the best “Down with America” presentations, ranging from songs to videos to cartoons. The cash award may be as high as $4,000.
Here is a small slice of the headlines over the last few days covering Iran: USA Today writes, “Report: Iran may be a month from a bomb”; The Washington Free Beacon states, “Iran announces 34 new nuke sites: Working with Russia to boost nuclear program”; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty headlined its story, “UN Iran Rapportuer Sees No Progress on Human Rights.”
The U.S. and its allies should confront Iran and couple a swift termination of its nuclear-weapons program with dramatic changes in the country’s wretched human-rights situation — including its religious liberty.
Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter@BenWeinthal