Willful Blindness to the Sharia Basis for Iran’s Persecution of Christians

See the full essay at Pajamas Media

Some key extracts, below:

A confluence of news stories last week, including, prominently, the release of a report by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, have highlighted the plight of Iranian Christians.

The salient findings from Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed’s report (issued online Tuesday 10/22/13), were as follows:

Sources communicate that at least 20 Christians were in custody in July 2013. In addition, violations of the rights of Christians, particularly those belonging to evangelical Protestant groups, many of whom are converts, who proselytize to and serve Iranian Christians of Muslim background, continue to be reported. Authorities continue to compel licensed Protestant churches to restrict Persian-speaking and Muslim-born Iranians from participating in services, and raids and forced closures of house churches are ongoing. According to sources, more than 300 Christians have been arrested since 2010, and dozens of church leaders and active community members have reportedly been convicted of national security crimes in connection with church activities, such as organizing prayer groups, proselytizing and attending Christian seminars abroad.

His report further noted allegations of additional abuses, including “various forms of legal discrimination…in employment and education,” as well as frequent cases of “arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment.”

… The following day, Wednesday 9/23/13, Christian Solidarity International published a report about a “verdict” an Iranian court issued on October 6th, which the named defendants received October 20th. Four members of the Church of Iran—Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Reza Omidi (Youhan), Mehdi Dadkhah (Danial) and Amir Hatemi (Youhanna)—were charged with drinking alcohol during a communion service, and possession of a receiver and satellite antenna. The court sentenced them to receive 80 lashes each, for these alleged “offenses.”

With depressing predictability, the Sharia (Islamic law)-based dynamic which underpins such blatant—and grotesque—religious persecution, was ignored  by the mainstream media, including conservative outlets. Even the following specific (if merely allusive) statement contained within the Special Rapporteur’s analysis itself, did not get repeated.

…the [Iranian] Government…states that its Constitution recognizes only Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism as minority religions and that adherents to those religions are entitled to manifest their beliefs, “within the limits of the law”, which is governed by Islamic sharia. [emphasis added]

For example, neither Benjamin Weinthal’s blog at NRO (“Iran’s Continued War on Christians,” 10/25/13), nor his lengthier Fox News piece (“Iran gives Christians 80 lashes for communion wine as UN blasts human rights record,” 10/24/13)—despite the fact that both accounts referenced Special Rapporteur Shaheed’s report—mentioned, let alone honestly elaborated upon, Shaheed’s allusion to sharia.  Although Weinthal should not be singled out, per se, the discussion which follows demonstrates why his omission—pathognomonic of this consistent lacuna in contemporary “reportage” on Iran’s abuse of its vulnerable non-Muslim minority populations—is egregious, and unacceptable.

… Iran’s application of the Sharia across a continuum of five centuries—with a brief hiatus under the Pahlavi Shahs from 1925-1979—is manifested by the ongoing persecution of its contemporary Christians, and other non-Muslim minorities.

Please read the entire essay, here.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism ” (Prometheus, November, 2008)

You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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