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5/24/2024 Iran (International Christian Concern) Iran is in shock following the deaths of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who perished in a helicopter crash on Sunday, May 19. There was no sign of attack, and the helicopter caught fire soon after it crashed, according to a statement made on May 24.  

Raisi, who has been at the helm of Iran’s presidency since 2021, has played a significant role in the country’s political landscape since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. His tenure was marked by hardline policies and brutal suppression of dissent, including the persecution of Christians. 

A prominent figure within the Iranian regime, Raisi earned the grim moniker “Butcher of Tehran” due to his involvement in the 1988 judiciary commission, which led to the execution of thousands of prisoners, including those charged with apostasy. Before his presidency, Raisi served as the Head of the Judiciary from 2019 to 2021, where his policies continued to reflect his uncompromising stance. 

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Raisi’s foreign minister, was known for his extensive influence across the Middle East. His death alongside Raisi leaves a significant void in Iran’s diplomatic influence in the region. 

In accordance with the Iranian constitution, Raisi’s vice president will assume the presidency for the next 50 days until new elections are held. However, political analysts predict that other hardliners with similar policies towards Christians will consolidate power, maintaining the status quo. 

For the past 44 years, Iran has seen relentless waves of persecution against those who convert to Christianity. Owning a Bible in Farsi is prohibited, and sharing the Christian faith is illegal. Christian leaders are often arrested, interrogated, and imprisoned in the notorious Evin prison, with some even facing execution under charges of apostasy and espionage. 

Despite this oppressive environment, the past decade has witnessed one of the fastest-growing Christian communities in the world within Iran. Some estimates suggest that over a million Iranians have converted to Christianity.  

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