AUSTRALIA :– Iran’s Islamic theocracy was created through the union of Shi’ite activism and Marxist revolutionary thought. In Iran Christianity is severely repressed. Citizens who are “born” Christian (non-Persians: traditionally-Christian ethnic minorities such as Armenians and Assyrians) are “protected” (graciously permitted to live) as long as they remain subjugated. It is forbidden for Christians to share their faith, and it is forbidden for a Muslim to change his religion.
Whilst the 1979 Islamic Revolution promised much, Iran’s Shi’ite revolutionary regime has delivered little but poverty, repression, decline and despair. As noted in a recent CBN news article by George Thomas, Iranian youths – 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30 – are restless. Amir (not his real name for he is a convert from Islam) told CBN: “More than 80 percent of them (Iranian youths) are depressed. They are disappointed. They feel like they have no future. They are so angry that no good thing has come from the Islamic revolution.”
Another convert tells CBN that Iranian youths feel like Islam only condemns them, imposes restrictions put on them, and dictates to their life. She says that mosques that were often filled before the revolution are often empty today. “The young people say that they don’t have any religion, they don’t have any belief. Some of them even say they are not Muslim!”
The CBN article notes that because the traditional ethnic Christian churches do not (normally) actively seek out new believers, the government tolerates them. However, the number of evangelicals is growing and these are mostly Muslim-born Iranians, ethnic Persians, who have converted to Christianity often as a result of dreams and visions. CBN notes, “For these people, life is often more challenging. Amir elaborates: ‘The price for converting can be everything. But as Christ said, if you want to be His follower, you have to forsake all, including your life.'”
Thomas writes: “In the last decade, several Iranian believers have paid the ultimate price. The majority of those killed were former Muslims. Several remain behind bars for hiding their conversions to Christianity.
“Despite the challenges, Iranians are more open to the Gospel than ever before. The Internet and satellite television are giving people greater access to the message of Christ.
“On a recent Tuesday afternoon, CBN News met a group of young Muslim girls who talked about their encounters with Jesus. ‘I know a lot of Muslims who go to church,’ one said. ‘I go there to find peace. I cannot explain this peace to you.'” (Link 1)
On 5 May, an Iranian man identified only as A. Sh. was involved in a minor traffic accident. When the officials from the state security forces (SSF) searched his car they found both a Bible and a Jesus film in the Farsi language (the most commonly spoken Persian language).
When A. Sh. confessed to being a Christian, the security agents beat and arrested him and took him to a holding cell in Detention Centre 102. A. Sh. was accused of converting from Islam to Christianity and, without any due legal process, was summarily punished with a savage lashing. He was released two days later after his family paid bail. A photograph of A. Sh.’s injuries has been published on the Farsi Christian News Network (Link 2).
“IS IRAN READY FOR CHANGE?”
The desire of all Christians everywhere is that Iranians (and Persian culture) would have liberty. A hugely interesting and important interview with Dr Assad Homayoun of the Azadegan Foundation ( http://azadeganiran.com/ ) has been published in the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) magazine “Defense and Foreign Affairs, Strategic Policy” (6, 2007).
The interview entitled “Is Iran Ready for Change?” can be found on the Azadegan website (Link 3).
The interviewer, UN Correspondent Jason Fuchs, describes Dr Homayoun as “one of the most significant leaders of Iran’s exiled nationalist opposition”. He is a “former senior Iranian diplomat currently residing in the United States. He was in charge of political affairs at the Iranian Embassy in Washington DC for 12 years and, just before the 1979 revolution, was Minister in Charge of the Embassy. Dr Homayoun earned his PhD in International Relations at George Washington University in Washington DC, and served as a professor there, as well. He is the author of many articles on international, Middle Eastern and Iranian affairs. He is also a Senior Fellow at the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA).”
Dr Homayoun describes the clerical administration in Iran as “an apocalyptic regime whose leadership is in favour of the advance of radical Islam around the world; what the clerics officially refer to as the ‘export of the Islamic revolution'”. He regards the “reformists” and the “radicals” as “two wings of the same monster”. He says the clerical regime in Tehran regards itself as the “vanguard forces” of the “true Islam”. As such, he believes that compromise is not possible. “As I see it,” says Homayoun, “the rift between the theocratic regime and the US is as wide as the Khyber Pass and cannot be crossed.”
Most interesting is Dr Homayoun’s assessment of the current political climate in Iran. After explaining why he believes that an air strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would fail to achieve its aims he writes: “. . . some members of the Iranian leadership are actually hoping for a US military strike against Iran. There is the belief in some regime circles, particularly around Pres. Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad and his spiritual mentor, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, that the Iranian Islamic Republic’s domestic political situation is very similar now to what it was in 1981. In 1981, it was already possible to see the cracks in Khomeini’s new Iran. Iranians were beginning to see that this new Iran was not the one they had been promised, and so, only two years after the 1979 revolution, you saw political unrest and all the indicators that Iranians wanted change.”
[For an example of this see the testimony of Daniel Shayesteh. Daniel was a co-founder of Iranian Hezballah and a Revolutionary Guard at the time of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He became a political activist after the revolution, and led to his becoming a political refugee in Turkey where the Lord opened his heart to the gospel. He and is now a Christian evangelist. Link 4]
(Homayoun continued.) “This political ferment, this burgeoning anti-regime sentiment, was quickly anaesthetised when the Iran-Iraq war began that year. For while Iranians were fast learning to detest their new masters, they remained proud patriots, proud nationalists, and were not about to allow a foreign power to defeat it on the battlefield. And so, Iranians rallied around the flag, as they say in America, and 26 years later they are still stuck with this regime.”
[A contemporary example of this phenomenon occurred in January 2002. Shi’ites well understand Sunni fundamentalist aggression. Within hours of the 9/11 terror attacks in the US, while Sunni Arabs throughout the Middle East were celebrating, Iranian civilians were spontaneously taking to the streets to express solidarity with the Americans. Hundreds joined in candle-light vigils in Tehran until they were dispersed by the regime which also arrested many. (See link 5.) Since the “Axis of Evil” designation however, fear that Iran could be attacked has driven anti-American sentiment that is then further exploited by the anti-American theocratic revolutionaries holding power.]
(Homayoun continued.) “Pres. Ahmadi-Nejad and his followers are hoping that a limited US military strike which leaves them in power will have the same unifying effect and save them at a moment when Iranians are, as they were in 1981, beginning to unify not for the regime, but against it.”
Dr Homayoun adds that any attempt to topple the regime by means of sponsoring ethnic or sectarian unrest will fail, because “the only thing the Iranian people are more afraid of than their own government is that Iran will become the next Iraq; that Iran will disintegrate into ethnic or sectarian defined entities at war with one another.
“The Iranian regime is overwhelmingly unpopular within Iran, but the notion of the proud Iranian nation being dissolved is universally unpopular. And so, when Washington or anyone else supports groups that define themselves by their ethnic or sectarian banners, the Iranian people fear that this will only lead to the dissolution of their homeland, not its long-overdue liberation. Thus, such steps are counterproductive. Iran is just like a Persian carpet with different colours, different designs, but all a part of the same carpet: just like Iran, one nation, indivisible.”
Concerning Iranian hardship Homayoun writes: “The Iranian internal situation is dire, at levels of hardship and suffering unseen in recent memory. Young people are unemployed; there is 25 percent unemployment nationally, inflation is at 22 percent, drugs and prostitution and hunger continue to eat away at the nation from the inside out and all of this is because of the mismanagement and corruption of the regime. It is as much a kleptocracy as it is a theocracy.
“Nowhere could politics be more serious than now in Iran where the people opposed to this regime are, indeed, in the millions. There are close to 50-million young people, possibly more, under the age of 25 [in a population of 70 million]. The reality is that the regime is in worse shape than ever, and the people are ready to rise and need only be galvanised.”
1) Inside Iran: A Rising Chorus
By George Thomas
SEE ALSO: Testimonies from the Muslim World
2) Farsi Christian News Network. http://www.fcnn.tv 1 Aug 2007
Torturing an Iranian Christian for his confession of faith in Christ.
Iran authorities lash man for having bible in car – report. 13 Aug 2007
3) Defense & Foreign Affairs. Special Analysis
Volume XXV, No. 49 Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Time for Change in Iran?
An Interview with Key Iranian Opposition Leader, Dr Assad Homayoun
4) Escape From Darkness. Daniel Shayesteh.
ALSO (Daniel Shayesteh’s testimony, over a series of five YouTube clips)
5) Candle Power. Iran mourns America’s dead. 18 Sept 2001
REPOSTED BY PERMISSION OF CHRISTIAN BREAKING NEWS
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