Iran marks anniversary of ‘freedom’

By February 3, 2009

Iran (MNN) — Iran is marking the
30th anniversary of the Islamic 
revolution this week.   

The 10 days of anniversary
festivities highlight the homecoming of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In 1979, his return from exile sparked mass
protests, led to the ouster of the shah,
and opened the door for Muslim clerics to take over.

To the hardliners, the celebrations
mark a freedom from the West and a resolution to keep reformists out of government.

Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs notes the irony of the "freedom" celebrations from the perspective of
a believer. "The freedom extends to
those who agree with the Islamic government, with those who agree to uphold
their policies."

However, according to Compass
Direct sources, pressure against Christians has increased in recent months,
resulting in the detention of approximately 50 believers across the country.

Nettleton observes that the
freedom being touted by Iran's government "does not extend to Christians. It
doesn't extend to opposition parties that want to run in the election. It's a very limited freedom, and yet that
seems to be the theme they're focusing on." 

In September 2008, Iran's
parliament voted for a draft law that would mandate the death penalty for those
convicted of apostasy.

The draft law, a clear attempt to
deter conversion from Islam, defines an apostate as "any Muslim who
clearly announces that he/she has left Islam and declares blasphemy."   

In spite of this draft law, evangelism continues. In fact, outside ministries
are utilizing television and radio to share the Gospel. 

Disillusionment  is rampant among young people, which
ironically is an opening for the hope of Christ. "The hunger that exists in that country
and the way they respond when they hear the Good News is just remarkable," says
Nettleton. "They are finding that the
hopelessness of Islam doesn't answer the questions of their heart, and the
Gospel does answer those questions. So, the church is growing."

Pray for strength, wisdom, and
grace for Iranian Christians as they continue to spread the Gospel despite
sustained pressure from the Islamic government of the nation. Ask God to frustrate the attempts of those who
hinder the expansion of His Kingdom.

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