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Middle East

Iranian Christians and a Life of Persecution

Israel Today speaks to an Iranian journalist about what life’s really like for Christians in the Islamic Republic

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Christians in Iran represent between 0.4% and 1% of the population; that is between 200,000 and 350,000 people, out of a population of 70 million. They are among the oldest Christian sects in the world, dating back to the founding of the Church of Persia by Saint Thomas.

 

Assyrian and Armenian Muslims

Christians in Iran do not form a homogeneous bloc, but are a diverse society. For instance, ethnicity often trumps religion among the Armenian (150,000) and Assyrian (40,000) Christian minorities, which maintain their own separate churches. Nor should ethnicity and religion always be conflated. There are Assyrian and Armenian Muslims, some of whom converted after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 to secure their social and professional status.

 

An ambiguous and difficult situation

The situation for Christians in Iran remains paradoxical, and it is often complicated. They are subjected to two very different sets of criteria. On the one hand, the Chaldeans (Assyrians) and Armenians, who belong to officially recognized churches, often do not face problems, and these two sects do not mix with Muslims, nor do they practice proselytizing. To enter...

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