The Problem

100,000 million Christians face persecution simply for following Jesus 
The Problem


Leader: President Hassan Rouhani
Population: 81 million (800,000 Christians)
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Islamic republic
Source of Persecution: Islamic extremism
World Watch List Rank: 10

The basics

At least 52 Christians were arrested or imprisoned in Iran in 2017. Ethnic Persians are seen as being Muslim, and carrying out any Christian activities in the language of this group, Farsi, is strictly illegal. A Persian person who decides to leave Islam can be sentenced to death if male, and life imprisonment if female – although this sentence hasn’t been carried out for over 20 years. Despite this, Christians from a Muslim background make up the largest group of Christians in Iran.

The facts

  • Iran is governed by strict Islamic laws.
  • In Iran Muslims are not meant to shake hands with Christians, touch them, or eat their food.
  • Muslims converting to Islam can face the death penalty.
  • Christians are monitored by the secret police. In November 2015, 14 Christians at a house church meeting were arrested. 52 Christians were arrested in 2017.
  • Those arrested face intimidation, physical and mental abuse as well as threats of execution.
  • Christians who try to speak to Muslims about Jesus can be imprisoned, face physical abuse and harassment.

Where is it?

Pray this…

Almighty God,
You are love, truth and goodness. Even when people think of Your followers as dirty and unclean, You are good. Open eyes and minds in Iran to new ways of seeing. Empower and embolden those in Iran who love You. Help them share Your grace in powerful ways. Be with those in prison. Bring strength and courage. Give them words to speak that will open hearts to know You, even in jail. Spirit of God, equip Your church. Keep them faithful.

Other things to pray for…

  • For comfort and strength for the dozens of imprisoned Christians and their families
  • For wisdom for Christians to know who to trust, and for protection for secret believers and underground churches
  • As Iran begins to have more connections with Western nations, its leaders may try to prevent greater ‘Western influence’ within the nation by enforcing even stricter controls on religious activity. Pray this will not be the case.
  • That the laws of Iran will change to allow for freedom of religion
  • For many Muslim families, it is a great disgrace when one of its members leaves Islam. Pray for protection and provision for Christians who have been cursed and disowned by their families.


More detailed info…

The good news: How we’re helping…

Open Doors supports the church in the Middle East through the following activities:

  • Bible and Christian literature distribution
  • Training ( eg discipleship training, trauma training)
  • Supporting Christian multimedia initiatives for the region
  • Advocacy.

Latest news and articles on Iran…

Click the Iran tag below for a list of the latest articles and news on the country…

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.