Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Iran Condemns Desecration of Churches in Syria Positive Change or Public Relations

According to Press TV, Iranian Foreign ministry spokeswoman Marziheh Afkham has issued a statement condemning attacks on Churches and Christian sites in Syria.as well as the recent murder of a priest and others Christians by militant Syrian rebels.Afkham stated,"Certainly this act was taken with the aim of fueling the sedition in Syria and differences between followers of divine religions who have lived side by side in peace for centuries."{1}
Afkham also called for the release of Nuns kidnapped from an Orthodox convent and for international agencies to intervene to protect Civilians. What are we to make of this? The world, especially the Christian world would certainly welcome Iran adopting a more tolerant policy towards religious minorities but we would hope that charity begins at home.
Traditionally in Iran Christians (predominantly Armenians) and Jews, being monotheists have been given limited "dhimmi" status, a form of second class citizenship. However in the wake of the Islamic Revolution, persecution of all non-Islamic religions commenced. The Anglican Mission in Iran, including a hospital and school for blind girls were closed and the son of the Iranian Anglican Bishop murdered. in addition other Churches in Iran have faced persecution and recently a number of Pastors were imprisoned and threatened with death. See www.elam.com {2}
In addition Iran has engaged in serious persecution of it indigenous religions, the Zoroastrians and the Bahai. As Sanskrity Sinha, of the International Business Times,{3} describes, Iranian Zoroastrians have had many of their leaders killed and large numbers of adherents have fled the country.
Clearly, while one hopes that Iran's government has discovered religious toleration one cannot escape the conclusion this statement was for world consumption. Iran's client state in Syria faces serious opposition from militant rebels including ruthless groups backed by AL Qaeda. It appears that Iran is
desperately trying to bring world opinion, (and international military intervention in on the side of Syria).
and that its speaking out in defense of Christians is just part of that ploy.

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