A group of former Iranian prisoners detained because they had converted to Christianity has issued a statement demanding the right to education for Persian-speaking Christians.
In an open letter published on United Nations’ International Day of Education, January 24, they protested to what they called a violation of their basic human rights, including the right to study.
“The Islamic Republic expels Persian-speaking Christians and our children from schools and universities,” they said, noting that this was only one form of discrimination against them. The signatories called on other Iranians not to remain silent about their deprivation of the right to education.
While established Christian churches − including Armenian, Assyro-Chaldean, Greek Orthodox, and Catholic - are allowed to practice, they are required to admit to services only existing members and not to accept converts. New churches cannot be set up.
As they do not use Persian in services these churches have limited appeal to Persian speakers. Iranian Protestants, by contrast, carry out services in Farsi and are sometimes committed proselytizers.
While Iran frowns on Baha’ism, atheism, eastern or esoteric philosophies and cults, the constitution recognizes Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. Those born into Christian, Jewish or Zoroastrian families enjoy a certain freedom of worship. Armenian and Assyro-Chaldeans Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians all have representatives in the Iranian parliament.