12/18/2019 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has submitted a “budget of resistance and perseverance” totaling $43 billion to parliament for approval for the fiscal year 2020. If approved, the budget would come into effect in March. The budget contains several items which could have implications for religious minorities living in Iran. However, the budget does remain intentionally obscure in terms of language.
The Revolutionary Guards, Ministry of Intelligence, and Basij paramilitary all have played a significant role in the persecution of Christians, including their arrests and imprisonments. The Guards and Intelligence Ministry did receive a budget increase of roughly 20%, which is higher than what was asked by defense officials. However, because of inflation, technically their funding in real terms has declined. The Basij paramilitary received the most substantial funding cut, as they lost nearly half of their funding in the proposed budget.
However, these financial cuts do not necessarily mean that the regime is decreasing its ability to use these forces to control society. The government seeks to encourage privatization by selling state companies, but historically, the buyers of these entities are often key players within the regime. This means that these three national security entities could continue to find ways of funding their activities outside of the allocated budget.
Regardless, Iran’s economy is in a difficult period. State-sponsored persecution such as it exists in Iran is an expensive endeavor, for both victims and the government. The budget may not have immediate bearing on Iranian Christians, but it does give some sense of the landscape of their country for the near future.
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