by WorldTribune Staff, May 8, 2019
Iranians converting to Christianity is “happening right before our eyes,” Iran’s intelligence minister said in a recent address to Shia preachers.
Christianity is spreading in “parts” of Iran, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said, according to a May 4 report by Iranwire.com. “These converts are ordinary people whose jobs are selling sandwiches or similar things.”
“We had no choice but to summon them to ask them why they were converting,” said Alavi. “Some of them said they were looking for a religion that gives them peace. We told them that Islam is the religion of brotherhood and peace. They responded by saying that: ‘All the time we see Muslim clerics and those who preach from the pulpit talk against each other. If Islam is the religion of cordiality, then before anything else, there must be cordiality and peace among the clerics themselves.”
“It is not the job of the intelligence community to find the roots of these conversion [from Islam]. But it’s happening right before our eyes,” Alavi said.
According to Open Doors USA, Christians in Iran “are forbidden from sharing their faith with non-Christians. Consequently, church services in Persian (Iran’s national language) are not allowed. Converts from Islam face persecution from the government. If they attend an underground house church, they face the constant threat of arrest. Iranian society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.”
The Iranian government also views Christian converts as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran, Open Doors USA said.
“Leaders of groups of Christian converts have been arrested, prosecuted and have received long prison sentences for ‘crimes against the national security.’ The historical communities of Armenian and Assyrian Christians are recognized and protected by the state but are treated as second-class citizens and are not allowed contact with Muslim background Christians.”
Many Christians (especially converts) “have been prosecuted and sentenced to long terms in jail,” Open Doors USA noted. “Several house churches were raided during the 2019 World Watch List reporting period, including arrests or detainment of entire congregations. Most are no longer functioning as house churches.”
During his speech to the Shia preachers, Alavi sought to justify high levels of inflation under the Iranian regime, but a group of seminary students listening to the speech objected, the Iranwire.com report said.
“Dear students who want to proselytize, would you treat a person who does not share your opinions this way? Let me finish what I have to say and then you can say what you want,” Alavi replied. “Seeing everything through the lens of politics is not scientific, scholarly or intellectual.”