Mohabat News – The Islamic government of Iran harasses and persecutes religious minorities and systematically violates their rights, while articles 13 and 14 of the Iranian constitution recognize religious minorities' rights. At the same time, Christians and Christian converts in Iran face increasing threats and pressure.
Despite the pressure and threats, however, the reports indicate that a large number of people, especially youth choose to convert to Christianity even though they come from traditional and highly religious families.
In an interview, the AFP asked Mrs. Shirin Ebadi about her opinion on the new wave of people converting to Christianity in Iran.
Regarding religious oppression and discrimination in the Islamic Republic and the arrest of dissidents, Mrs. Ebadi said, "religious discrimination in Iran is a sign of the regime's obstinacy. The Islamic regime believes, whoever is not thinking like them is a criminal and should be imprisoned, even if the person is a Muslim. Gonabadi Dervishes are an example of this. We see their arrests and condemnations in the courts. We should remember that the regime has the weakest public support of all time. When governments become weak, they become terrified and stop those who think differently, lest their government fall".
Considering "apostasy" and verdicts issued against Iranian Christian converts by Islamic courts, Mrs. Ebadi, who is also a Human Rights activist, said, "Many Senior Islamic clerics do not think as the regime does. They don't think apostasy should be punished by putting people in jail or executing them. What was considered apostasy in the early ages of Islam was that if followers of other faiths would have attacked Muslims, they could issue such sentences. Also Muslims were weak in those times. However, today we live in an age where freedom of conscience and thinking should be observed".
Answering the question of why apostates are not being executed in Iran, although the law requires them to be executed, she said, "In fact the reason that the Iranian government does not execute apostates as it claims it should, and sentences them to one year in prison instead, is that it wants to terrorize people into thinking and acting the same way as they do".