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Country rank   9
Last year’s rank   8
Region   Middle East
Population   84 308 000
Christians   800 000 (Open Doors estimate)
Main Religion   Islam

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9Iran

Converts from Islam to Christianity are most at risk of persecution, especially by the government and to a lesser extent by society and their own families. The government sees the growth of the Church in Iran as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran. House groups made up of Muslim converts are often raided, and both their leaders and members have been arrested, prosecuted and given long prison sentences for “crimes against national security”.

The historical communities of Armenian and Assyrian Christians are recognised and protected by the state, but they’re treated as second-class citizens and aren’t allowed contact with Christians from Muslim backgrounds.

What has changed this year? Sadly, things may get worse following changes to the country’s penal code, which further strangles religious freedom. Under the amendments, teaching the Bible or telling others about the Christian faith – which contradicts the teaching of Islam – could result in prosecution. This vague wording is open to interpretation, making Christians more vulnerable to unjust accusations.

Meet Hamed

“I thank God for considering me worthy of enduring this persecution because of Him.”

Hamed was sentenced to ten months imprisonment for Christian activities. He refused to inform on other Christians, resulting in him being beaten by the authorities.

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Pray for Iran

  • Pray that President Raisi will honour the rights and contributions of Iran’s religious minorities.
  • Pray that God will open the eyes of the authorities to see that Christians aren’t a threat to Iran but a valuable part of Iranian society.
  • Pray that the house churches will continue to powerfully equip believers to serve Jesus.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in the Persian Gulf?

Open Doors supports the Church in the Persian Gulf through partners with online ministry presence, Christian multimedia initiatives and advocacy.

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