So begins a recent article in the New York Times by Liana Aghajanian regarding the plight of Christians in Iran.
'When you’re Christian in Iran, you can’t speak. You have to keep quiet and not talk about the truth that you know and that you believe in,” he told me. “There is no such thing as a comfortable life in Iran."
.... Persecution is well-documented. In 2004, Hamid Pourmand, the lay leader of Jama’at-e Rabbani, the Iranian branch of the evangelical Assemblies of God, was arrested with more than 80 other members, charged with apostasy and imprisoned for years before his release. A report last year by Ahmed Shaheed, a United Nations special rapporteur, talks of Christians being “prosecuted on vaguely worded national security crimes for exercising their beliefs,” with more than 300 having been arrested since 2010.
Mori was one of the lucky ones. In 2011, he got a fake passport, paid 7,000 euros to a smuggler and joined the rising flow of refugees...."Seldom if ever do the zealous opponents of Israel and of Christian Zionism, the ones who are more than happy to appear on the Iranian regime's satellite propaganda channel Press TV in order to badmouth Israel, draw attention in their blogs and tweets to the terrible state of affairs confronting Iran's Christians, much less condemn it.
Some of them occasionally focus on Saudi Arabia (where of course there are no churches) for its human rights abuses, but turn a blind eye to the horrors perpetrated the Iranian regime. This double standard is hardly coincidental, of course: Saudi Arabia is, for all its faults, an ally of the United States and, behind the scenes, expediently of Israel. Iran, of course, is the opposite.
Ever wondered, indeed, why some Christians, so eager to condemn Israel and excoriate Christian Zionism, seem so stay more or less shtum regarding the terrible plight of their co-religionists not only in Iran but in the Middle East generally at the hands of the common enemy of both Christians and Jews, despite all that has been written by people such as Egyptian-born Christian scholar Raymond Ibrahim and in the articles carried by the Assyrian International News Agency regarding the Islamic war on Christians in the Middle East?
Well, an article by one of Stephen Sizer's chums, Jeremy Moodey, CEO of Engage the Middle East and like Sizer a seemingly implacable foe of Israel and of Christian Zionism, holds a clue:
"Israeli officials are said to be upset that the Pope will only celebrate public masses in Bethlehem and Amman, and not in Jerusalem, although this may have something to do with the fact that when Pope Benedict celebrated mass in the Holy City in 2009, the event was poorly attended, with many worshippers reportedly turned away by the Israeli security authorities. In its publicity about the visit, the Vatican has referred for the first time to the State of Palestine, a status not recognised by Israel. Characteristically, a key focus of the Pope’s visit will be refugees: he will meet with Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan and also spend time with children from three Palestinian refugee camps near Bethlehem. Strikingly, the three Palestinian camps involved (Dheisheh, Aida and Beit Jibrin) are predominantly Muslim. The Pope’s concern for the underprivileged of all faiths underlines a simple fact about the Middle East that is often overlooked in the raw emotion of the ‘persecuted Christians’ narrative: which is that many more Muslims than Christians suffer from the political turmoil and violence of the Middle East, yet they receive a fraction of the press coverage in the West...." [Emphasis added here and below]Moodey (whose article has been commended by Sizer on social media) goes on to observe that
"The Pope would do well to heed the plea from his own church leaders in the Holy Land to recognise that persecution and suffering go much wider than just Christians"and quotes in support of this contention a press release issued by those functionaries last month:
“the repetition of the word ‘persecution’… usually referring only to what Christians suffer at the hands of criminals claiming to be Muslims, plays into the hands of extremists”...I wonder what the Christians of Silence (to paraphrase the title of a famous book by Elie Wiesel concerning the trapped and persecuted Jews of Soviet Russia during the refusenik era) would say about that.