Iran is an overlooked source of Christian persecution in the Middle East, according to a senior fellow with The Philos Project. In a recent presentation, Farhad Rezaei discussed the West’s view of Christian persecution that often silos the issue to jihadists, failing to account for Iran’s “strategy of eliminationism” in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon.
In an organized and strategic campaign, Iran seeks to shrink and suffocate the Christian minority communities in the Middle East through discrimination, imprisonment, abduction and confiscation of property, to name a few. Domestically, Iran has made recent headlines for a “victory” in a case of nine Christians who were acquitted of their crimes of house church membership. However, several of the Christians from the group already face new charges and the vast majority of Iranian Christian converts have little hope for appeal. Intelligence officers at the notorious Evin Prison also recently violated the rights of imprisoned Iranian Christians by refusing to return the confiscated equipment to the interrogation branch.
Regionally, Iranian-backed factions in Iraq and Syria disrupt attempts for peace and restoration, pushing an anti-Christian agenda. Rezaei provided two rationales for Iran’s attempts to smother the region’s Christian population. One is strategic for Iran to expand a land bridge to the Mediterranean, across land that Christian communities currently reside in. The second is ideological and the “new Shi’ism” views that Christians are “pollution”.