Iran

World Watch Ranking: 9

How many Christians are there in Iran?

There are only about 800,000 Christians in Iran, from a population of over 84.3 million – that’s about one per cent of Iranians.

What does persecution look like in Iran?

Converts from Islam to Christianity are most at risk of persecution, especially by the government and to a lesser extent by society and their own families.  

The government sees the growth of the church in Iran as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran. House groups made up of converts from Muslim backgrounds are often raided, and both their leaders and members have been arrested, prosecuted and given long prison sentences for "crimes against national security."

The historical communities of Armenian and Assyrian Christians are recognized and protected by the state, but they are treated as second-class citizens and are not allowed contact with Christians from Muslim backgrounds.  

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Converts from Islam to Christianity are most at risk of persecution, especially by the government, and to a lesser extent, by society and their own families.

Government control is highest in urban areas, while rural areas are less monitored. However, the anonymity of urban areas gives Christians more freedom to organize meetings and activities than in rural areas where social control is higher.

Meet "Ashouri"

Hamed Ashouri, who was sentenced to ten months imprisonment for Christian activities. He refused to inform on other Christians, resulting in him being beaten by the authorities.

“I thank God for considering me worthy of enduring this persecution because of Him.”

Ashouri

What has changed compared to last year?

The severity of persecution facing Christians in Iran remains largely unchanged.
Sadly, things may get worse following changes to the country's penal code, which further strangles religious freedom. Under the amendments, teaching the Bible or telling others about the Christian faith—which contradicts the teaching of Islam—could result in prosecution, as could the claim that Christians can communicate with Jesus, whom Islamic teaching regards as a prophet. Christians could also be accused of "insults ... with the intent to cause violence or tensions." This vague wording is open to interpretation, making Christians more vulnerable to unjust accusations.  

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Iran?

Open Doors supports the church in Iran through partners with online ministry presence, Christian multimedia initiatives and advocacy.

How can you pray for Iran?

  • Pray that President Raisi will honor the rights and contributions of Iran’s religious minorities.
  • Pray for God to open the eyes of the authorities to see that Christians are not a threat to Iran but a valuable part of Iranian society. 
  • Pray that the house churches will continue to powerfully equip believers for serving Jesus.
a Prayer for Iran

Dear Father, we are astonished that despite the extreme persecution facing our family in Iran, the church continues to see strong growth. May Christians continue to grow in number and maturity. Please help believers who are suffering for You to stand strong in Your love and power—and may this love and power extend to those who oppose them. Protect Christians from harm and keep prying eyes from house churches. May these gatherings be places where believers are powerfully transformed into Your likeness and equipped for everyday service to You.


Download Summary Report   Download Full Report
Map thumbnail
Persecution Level

Extreme


Persecution Type
  • Islamic oppression
  • Dictatorial paranoia
  • Clan oppression
  • Organized corruption and crime
  • Christian denominational protectionism
Population of Christians
800,000 (OD estimate)

Main Religion
Islam

Government
Theocratic Republic

Leader
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei