Iran (MNN) — On the 10th
Anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act, U.S. President George W.
Bush condemned Iran, among several other countries, for violations of religious
Iran's Islamist regime managed to
provoke global outrage for the regime's suppression of believers.
Voice of the Martyrs' Todd
Nettleton explains that it has gone further than arrests. "Within the last two weeks, we have heard
word of a draft bill that makes the death penalty the punishment for using the
Internet to encourage apostasy, to witness to Muslims and encourage them to
follow Christ. Earlier, there was a
draft bill to make the death penalty a mandatory punishment for
That earlier draft law defines an
apostate as "any Muslim who clearly announces that he/she has left Islam
and declares blasphemy," is clearly aimed to deter conversion from Islam.
The proposal contravenes Article
18 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (of which Iran
is a signatory) that states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of
thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his
religion or belief."
Believers are also discriminated
against in education, employment, and property ownership, and several pastors
have been murdered. Although missions are not allowed to enter Iran, a growing
number of Muslims have converted to Christianity.
Iran has continued its wave of
arrests over the last two months. Church
leaders and other related workers are being taken in for questioning, and many
times they are tortured for their religious activity.
Under the past three decades of the
regime, hundreds of citizens who have left Islam and become Christians have
been arrested for weeks or months, held in unknown locations and subjected to
psychological and physical torture. When
released on bail, they remain under threat of criminal prosecution if they dare
to worship in house churches or become involved in any Christian activities.
In spite of the persecution,
Nettleton says there is an incredible openness to the Gospel. "We need to pray that our brothers and
sisters will be bold in reaching out and in answering the openness and sharing
the Gospel. The other thing that I encourage people to pray for is for
government authorities to come to know Christ personally."