In the Islamic Revolution of 1979 the Shah was removed and Iran was changed into an Islamic Republic. Shia Islamic clerics took political control, today headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. During his reign, the Shah had started a program of modernization and Western influences entered the country. On the other hand, dissidents were heavily oppressed. As a result, the Shah lost the support of powerful religious, political and popular forces paving the way for an overthrow. In the view of Iran’s current leaders, expanding the influence of Shia Islam in the Middle East is a means of continuing the revolution. Particularly in Iraq, Shia Islam has regained influence since the demise of Saddam Hussein and the surge of Islamic State in large parts of the country. Christianity is also considered a condemnable Western influence, an imminent threat to the Islamic identity of the Republic. Especially as their numbers are growing and, allegedly, even children of political and spiritual leaders are leaving Islam for Christianity. Apart from Christians, the rights of other religious minorities like Jews, Bahai’s, Zoroastrians, Dervish and Sunni Muslims are violated as well.
Pastor Reza* is a follower of Christ in Iran. He has a leading role in a house church and was imprisoned for this. Through these most difficult struggles, he came to know the deep peace of the Lord.
Saeed, a U.S. citizen and Iranian-born Muslim-background believer, had been imprisoned in Iran since September 2012. He was serving an eight-year prison sentence on charges of undermining national security, due to his involvement with house fellowships.