“All people from every place on the globe must be permitted to practice their faith openly — in their homes, in their places of worship, in the public square — and believe what they want to believe,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said July 16 as he opened the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
That freedom of worship is not happening in Iran. The Iranian regime continues to harass, interrogate and arrest Baha’is, Christians, Sunni Muslims, Zoroastrians, Jews and other religious minorities, according to the Department of State’s 2018 Report on Religious Freedom for Iran.
The strict, authoritarian Iranian regime governs the theocratic republic with laws and regulations based on Ja’fari Shia Islam. These prohibit Muslim citizens from changing or renouncing their religious beliefs.
Examples of the Iranian regime’s crackdown in 2018 include:
- 142 Christians arrested across multiple Iranian cities in December 2018.
- At least 40 members of the Baha’i faith arrested in October and November 2018.
- More than 300 Sufi dervishes arrested during February 2018 demonstrations in Tehran. One was executed, and 208 were sentenced to lengthy prison terms and floggings.
Hundreds of religious leaders, governments, survivors of religious persecution and civil society organizations have gathered in Washington July 16–18 for the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom at the State Department.
“We all agree that fighting so that each person is free to believe, free to assemble, and to teach the tenets of his or her own faith is not optional — indeed, it is a moral imperative that this be permitted,” Secretary Pompeo said at the ministerial.