Iran (MNN) — In the wake of Iran’s controversial June 12 election results, protesters have taken their dissatisfaction to the streets of Tehran.
The Ayatollah Khamenei, the foremost cleric in the Islamic republic, backed the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Khamenei said the vote would stand with the people choosing Ahmadinejad over Mousavi with 63 to 34 percent. The decision sent more protestors into the streets, who were met by the deadly force of the Revolutionary Guard.
The country responded by stiffening its deadly stance against protesters, refusing a new vote and expelling two British diplomats accused of spying. Their conservative leadership also vowed to use force wherever necessary to silence opposition.
Their actions stepped up what could be the beginning of much worse oppression to come, says Glenn Penner of Voice of the Martyrs Canada. “Recent comments by the Iranian government and by the Ayatollah apportioning blame on foreign elements for these mass demonstrations is very concerning. Linking national unrest with international interference has resulted in increasing the targeting of religious minorities, such as Christians.”
However, many Christians have fled Iran because of persecution. Those who commit the crime of apostasy, or leaving Islam for another religion, are often arrested and tried in court. These charges are of particular concern since a draft law proposed in early 2008 that would mandate the death penalty for apostasy has passed several stages of Iran’s legislative process.
Even so, Penner says there is a growing church in Iran. Recent years have seen a growing appetite for political reform among the Iranian people. There is also a growing openness to considering the claims of Christianity, especially among the young.
Prayer is needed. “The situation for Christians worsened under Ahmadinejad’s previous term of presidency. That’s certainly going to deteriorate in the middle of this political chaos. We certainly need to be remembering our brothers and sisters in prayer during this time.”