Iran parliament approves first female cabinet minister

By September 4, 2009

Iran (MNN) — Iran's parliament approved the first female
cabinet minister this week, despite opposition from hardline Muslims. 

Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi is one of 18 nominations for President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's new cabinet to be approved–the first woman in the 30-year history of the Islamic
republic. Two other women were among three rejected nominees.

According to government sources, she is a hardline
conservative who backs segregated health care in Iran, with women treating
women and men treating men.

While the new health minister celebrated her watershed
moment, we asked if this was an anomaly or if it would eventually translate to
more freedom for Christians. 

Todd Nettleton with
Voice of the Martyrs urged caution.  "What we hope, obviously, is that
perhaps there are some more moderate Muslims that are gaining some power within
the government in Iran. Perhaps that could lead to some softening in the area
of religious freedom. But at this
point, it's too early to say, 'Yes, that's going to
happen.'" 

Iran is third on the 2009 Open Doors World Watch list of
countries known for their persecution of Christians. One
reason is that those who commit the crime of apostasy (leaving Islam for
another religion) are often arrested and tried in court. A draft law proposed last year that would mandate the death penalty for apostasy
has passed several stages of Iran's legislative process, but it seems to have
stalled since the elections.

There is good news, however, says Nettleton. "There's a revival going on there. Many
thousands of Muslims are coming to Christ, and they're getting discipled in
house churches. They are becoming strong in their faith. We need to pray for
their safety, for their encouragement, and we need to pray that that
discipleship process will go forward and create really strong, bold
believers."

Pray for strength for those who come to Christ despite the
threats they may face.

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