Map reflects the 30 most recent Persecution Reports. Click HERE
for the Map Legend.
Friday, February 14th, 2014
Lawmakers listened to testimony from experts and religious leaders highlighting the persecution of Christians that is rampant across the Middle East. As a representative from the Vatican stated, Arab Christians “find themselves the target of constant harassment for no reason other than their religious faith.” The United States has an important role to play in leading the conversation to find solutions to religiously based discrimination and persecution.
Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
While Iran has released some Christian prisoners from jail, authorities make new arrests and fill the vacated slots. It leaves us to wonder if the mixed message being sent is due to "internal disputes" or if Christians have reason to remain skeptical of reform under the new president.
Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
Pastor Saeed Abedini, a naturalized American citizen, has been imprisoned in Iran for more than a year after being detained by members of the notorious Revolutionary Guard. Pastor Saeed was assisting with humanitarian work in Iran when he was arrested. Calls for his release have been largely ignored by the Iranian government, though a statement made by Iran's foreign minister on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Swizterland, recently has sparked a "glimmer of hope" that the pastor may be released.
Monday, January 27th, 2014
While 2013 marked a very difficult year for Christian communities around the world, 2014 may be even more dangerous. The Middle East saw unprecedented levels of persecution, especially in Syria, where Open Doors recorded 1,213 Christian martyrs in 2013. Western media and governments can do more to cover the subject and to pressure nations who allow religious persecution to step in and protect Christians from violence.
Friday, January 24th, 2014
On January 13th, the Christian community in Iran celebrated the release of Davoud Alijani, a Christian arrested with four others in December of 2011. Davoud had spent more than 250 days in confinement for the "crime" of converting from Islam to Christianity. Several other Christians remain imprisoned in Iran for the same crime. The government of Iran remains highly repressive of Christianity and also continues to hold American citizen and pastor Saeed Abedini in prison, despite calls from organizations around the world for his release.
Thursday, January 23rd, 2014
Pastor Haik Hovsepian gave everything for his faith. In 1994, Pastor Haik, the superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church in Iran, was murdered just days after holding a successful protest for the release of a fellow pastor. At the time his murder sparked widespread media coverage and drew attention to the lack of religious freedom in Iran. Sadly, two decades later, little has improved for religious minorities in the country. Today Christians continue to face "systematic persecution" and imprisonment. Perhaps the most well-known religious prisoner in the West currently, Pastor Saeed Abedini, has been in imprisoned in Iran for over a year.
Thursday, January 23rd, 2014
The following article provides an excellent overview of the situation for Christians across the Middle East who, if current trends continue, are facing extinction. It also asks the pivotal question, why isn't the West outraged? For a decade the Middle East has been emptying of Christians by the hundreds of thousands as radical Islamic movements in the region become increasingly violent. Syria, Iraq, and Egypt are perhaps the best examples of this trend. ICC is actively working to raise awareness and bring assistance to many of these communities.
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini remains held in an Iranian prison. While the United States has been actively reviving negotiations with Iran in regards to its nuclear program, the issue of Saeed’s release has not been perceived as a priority by the White House or State Department.
Friday, January 17th, 2014
An Iranian pastor was released from prison, 20 days before his sentence was to conclude. Davoud Alijani was arrested during a raid on a Christmas celebration December 23, 2011. Four were arrested during the raid and have served prison time for charges related to their faith.
Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
The time of celebrating the birth of Christ became a time of mourning for Christians throughout Iran. Over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday at least nine Christians were arrested in two different raids. Also, another Christian was sentenced to one year in prison for Christian activities. The irony of it is that the Iranian president sent out a message of greeting to Christians on Christmas day, the same time that new believers were being rounded up and many others remained in Iranian prisons.
Monday, January 13th, 2014
Iran’s crackdown on Christians continues to show no sign of slowing down. Four more Christians were arrested on New Year’s Eve in the village of Karaj, just outside of Tehran. Another group of Christians were arrested on Christmas day. Details about the location of the prisoners or their conditions are limited. Both through the shutting down of officially recognized churches and the continued raids on homes of Christians, the Iranian regime continues to repress Christianity.
Friday, January 10th, 2014
In the latest report highlighting the status of Christian persecution around the world, 9 out of the top 10 countries are Muslim majority states, and Islamic extremism is the primary cause of their persecution of Christians. North Korea again holds the spot at #1 for the worst persecutor of Christians, but behind that it is Islamic extremism that is largely driving the problem. Another troubling aspect has been the relatively silence of the United States government on the issue, despite efforts within Congress to make it a higher priority for the State Department and the White House.
Friday, January 10th, 2014
Pastor Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned in Iran, convicted and sentenced to eight years for living out his Christian faith. Over the Christmas holiday, the president of Iran sent out greetings to Christians in Iran while at the same time his government was actively cracking down on Churches and still holds Pastor Saeed and dozens more behind bars for their faith.
Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
A newly released study documents that more than 2,100 Christians were killed as “martyr’s” in 2013. The greatest increase was seen in Syria. With a reported 1,213 deaths, Syria alone eclipsed the global total of 1,201 from 2012. The report is intentionally narrow in its definition of “martyr” and tries to distinguish between Christians killed in the midst of broader conflict and those killed explicitly for their faith. Nine of the ten worst persecuting countries are Muslim-majority states. As a whole, the report finds that “Islamist extremism is the worst persecutor of the worldwide church.”
Monday, January 6th, 2014
Another Iranian Christian has been sentenced to prison on charges related to his Christian faith. Hossein Saketi was sentenced to one year in prison for Christian activities. Hossein is a Farsi-speaking Christian. The Iranian regime has been increasingly hostile towards Christians who speak Farsi and has recently barred another church from allowing them to even attend services.
Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
An Iranian church in Tehran has been forced to prevent its Farsi-speaking members from attending or having any contact with the church. Iran has increasingly cracked down on any Christian activity among Farsi speaking Iranians. The decision affects many long-standing members of the church including Sunday school teachers and elders, some of who have been attending the church for more than 20 years. The decision affects the majority of the attendees of the St. Peter Church, leaving just a few Armenian and Assyrian families permitted to attend.
Saturday, December 28th, 2013
The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reached out symbolically to Christians over the Christmas holiday. The statements that came in multiple venues and were addressed both to Christians globally and specifically to Iranian Christians. However, the rights of Christians in Iran continue to be under assault and under Rouhani seemed to have worsened, despite the rhetoric.
Wednesday, December 25th, 2013
Slowly across the Western world we are seeing more and more political and thought leaders awake to the reality of Christian persecution, and the massive scale on which it is taking place across the Middle East. The horrific abuses have been largely ignored for a number of reasons from “political correctness,” fear of “doing God” in public, or taking sides in some sort of “clash of civilizations.” None of these, even if they were accurate, are justification for allowing massive crimes against humanity to take place with near total impunity and with little outcry from those countries who claim to be the defenders of human rights.
Tuesday, December 24th, 2013
Pastor Saeed will be spending his second Christmas in an Iranian jail. The American-Iranian pastor has been sentenced to eight years in prison as a result of activities the Iranian government viewed as a threat to national security. The crimes were related to his work with Christian house churches dating back to as early as 2000. Despite intense efforts on his behalf from Congress, Pastor Saeed remains imprisoned. Negotiations between the United States and Iran on nuclear issues have so far not yielded progress towards Pastor Saeed’s release.
Friday, December 20th, 2013
An Iranian pastor who was freed after having served only 5 months of a 12 month sentence continues to face strange treatment. Pastor Sabok-Rouh was detained along with more than 100 others during a raid in December of 2011. Following that he was sentenced to one year in prison and he, along with three others, began serving his sentence in May of this year. In early December he was released, though without guidance on whether his time has been completed or if he will ultimately be required to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
Iran appears to be putting forth some efforts towards developing rights that improve its horrific human rights record, yet many of these efforts still contain significant flaws that may further enable the abuse of religious minorities. President Hassan Rouhani released a draft of a Charter that puts forward an understanding of fundamental rights of its citizens. While there are some improvements, massive holes in regards to the treatment of religious minorities remain in place. In addition, the actions do not match the rhetoric as new Christians continue to be rounded up and sentenced to lengthy prison terms on purely religious grounds. American Pastor Saeed Abedini continues to serve out an eight year sentence for basic religious activities, from as far back as 13 years ago.
Friday, December 13th, 2013
Speaking to members of Congress, Naghmeh Abedini expressed the hurt she felt knowing that negotiations with Iran resulted in a deal regarding its nuclear program, but not the release of her husband, Saeed Abedini. During the panel, there were repeated calls made to ensure that Saeed’s release is a top priority for the U.S. government, as he, as an American citizen, remains in imminent danger, in a terrible prison, after being convicted through a sham trial, for charges that are in direct violation of what is expressed to be a core value of American foreign policy.
Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Pastor Avanessian has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison after being found guilty of “anti-government activities and promotion of ideas contrary to the sanctity of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The 61-year-old Pastor is suffering from serious medical conditions, including heart disease and kidney problems. The sentence brought against him may very well be seen as a death sentence as it is unlikely that he would be able to survive the harsh prison conditions.
Thursday, December 12th, 2013
International Christian Concern (ICC) continues to call for the release of American-Iranian Saeed Abedini. December 12th marks 444 days since Saeed was taken to an Iranian prison, simply because of his Christian faith. Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) co-chaired a joint subcommittee hearing on Iran’s continued persecution of Pastor Saeed. The dangers that Saeed faces in the brutal prison are real and it is crucial that the American people and the American government remain fully engaged to see this father and husband brought home to his family.
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
Secretary of State John Kerry gave his most detailed response yet into why the release of American citizens was not part of the negotiation process with Iran. It could make Pastor Saeed a “pawn” to the process, it could make it more “risky or dangerous,” Secretary Kerry said. Strange, considering Pastor Saeed is a prison known for inmate on inmate violence and has already been robbed at knifepoint. The logic of not tying their fate to the Iranian nuclear program is acceptable, but the inability to negotiate their release raises serious questions about the diplomatic strength and will of the present administration.
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
The situation for American citizen Saeed Abedini imprisoned in Iran remains dire. The latest reports have confirmed the worst fears about the dangers of the prison where he is being held. Thursday, December 12, two Congressional Sub-Committees are scheduled to hear testimony on the persecution of Saeed from his wife and from Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Monday, December 9th, 2013
Iran continues its crackdown on Christians and those whose ideas challenge the hardline Islamic beliefs of the regime. Rasoul Abdollahi was taken to the Evin prison to begin serving a three year prison term for “collusion against the government” (attending church) and evangelism. Also, two Christians were among a group of 16 internet activists arrested by the government for their activities which are reportedly “against Islam.”
Friday, December 6th, 2013
Two Christian prisoners were released on Wednesday, December 4, after having served 214 days in prison. The men had been convicted of conversion to Christianity as well as sharing their beliefs with Muslims, which Iran views as a security threat against its Islamic regime. The two men were released while there were about two weeks remaining on their sentences. The judicial authorities have not provided a reason for the slightly early release, nor have they indicated if there will be any change in the status of two other prisoners who were convicted at the same time.
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
The latest report has confirmed the worst fears about the conditions confronting American Pastor Saeed Abedini, held in Rajai Shahr prison in Iran. His family was able to visit him Monday and has reported that Saeed’s health is quickly deteriorating in the harsh conditions, he has been denied medicine to treat internal injuries. Rajai Shahr prison houses Iran’s most dangerous criminals and Saeed has been repeatedly robbed and has woken up with prisoners standing over him threatening him with knives.
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
As additional details continue to emerge about the negotiating process between the United States and Iran more questions are raised as to why American citizens, including Pastor Saeed Abedini was not part of the deal. Reports are now coming to light that an Iranian nuclear scientist was released by the US during the negotiating process, but Iran has continued to hold American’s in brutal prison conditions.