“The persecution of Christians has increased,” said Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s expert on human rights in Iran. “It seems to target new converts and those who run house churches.”
At least 13 Protestant Christians are currently in detention centers across Iran, and more than 300 Christians have been arrested since June 2010, according to the report. In addition to Christians, the nation’s 350,000 Bahai, who form Iran’s largest non-Muslim faith, have suffered under Tehran’s repression.[snip]
There is a “new Islamization in part of the government” that might explain the spike in repression targeting Christians, he added.
The UN report is the latest evidence that Iran’s clerical leaders seek to stamp out religious freedoms for minorities and dissent in the authoritarian Islamic Republic.
Dwight Bashir, of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, says of the situation:
"Over the past year, the Iranian government has stooped to new lows by incarcerating infant children with their Baha'i mothers and more brutally, clamping down on Christian converts from Islam,” Bashir said. “The U.S. government also should sanction Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad for their culpability in committing serious human rights abuses.”
Shaheed found “that 110 Bahais are currently detained in Iran for exercising their faith, including two women, Zohreh Nikayin (Tebyanian) and Taraneh Torabi (Ehsani), who are reportedly nursing infants in prison. It was further estimated that 133 Bahais are currently awaiting summonses to serve their sentences, and that another 268 Bahais are reportedly awaiting trial.”
He called the Bahai group the “single most important persecuted community in country.”
Bahais also happen to constitute the largest non-Muslim minority group in Iran. Founded in 1863 by Bahá'u'lláh in Iran, there are approximately 350,000 Bahai living in the Islamic Republic, many of whom are incarcerated for their faith, and all are marginalized and discriminated against. They are even banned in Iran from higher education.