Tensions are growing between the US and Iran in the Middle East at the same time as a spotlight is being shined the Iranian regime's abuses of human rights, particularly the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.
In Washington, DC, human rights experts, religious freedom advocates, and politicians gathered to speak out about Iran's escalating war against non-Muslims.
Victims of Christian persecution in Iran also addressed the gathering, sharing firsthand accounts of life in the Islamic regime.
Maryam Rostampour, the author of Captive in Iran, talked about Iranian government arrests and abuse, calling it "the most extreme persecution."
"The Iranian government arrested and imprisoned us because of our evangelical Christian faith. We were threatened and indicted with execution by hanging for charges of apostasy, blasphemy, and promoting Christianity in Iran," Rostampour said. "We spent 259 days in Tehran's notorious Evin prison where we learned why Iran is classified among the countries where followers of Christ face the most extreme persecution."
Tony Perkins, a commissioner at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, said, "In the 20 years of USCIRF's existence, the Iranian government, in particular, stands out as one of the most consistently egregious violators of religious freedom."
He tweeted, "It is absurd that Christians in #Iran who practice their faith peacefully are charged with acting against national security. Iran's own constitution provides for Christians' protected status."
"It is absurd that Christians in #Iran who practice their faith peacefully are charged with acting against national security. Iran's own constitution provides for Christians' protected status," says Commissioner @tperkins pic.twitter.com/iO9fXAA8U6
— USCIRF (@USCIRF) May 22, 2019
Other attendees included US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Dr. Mike Ansari, head of one of the largest satellite channels broadcasting Christian programs into Iran.
Honored to speak today at @persecutionnews event on #religiousfreedom in #Iran. We will continue working toward an #Iran that respects the rights of all its people. #PolicyDay2019 pic.twitter.com/0nBReLb2hF
— Ambassador Sam Brownback (@IRF_Ambassador) May 22, 2019
Meanwhile, International Christian Concern says the Trump administration can fight some of Iran's persecution by sanctioning harsh Islamic judges in Iran.
"Since their inception, the Iranian Revolutionary Courts have been used to actively oppress Christians and other minority religious groups in Iran. The decisions of these courts often subject religious minorities to inhumane living conditions, torture, and imprisonment," ICC states on its website.
They tweeted, "CHALLENGE: How can you help persecuted Christians in Iran? Urge President Trump to impose sanctions on three of Iran's most notoriously evil Iranian judges under the Global Magnitsky Act."
#PolicyDay19 CHALLENGE: How can you help persecuted Christians in Iran? Urge President Trump to impose sanctions on three of Iran's most notoriously evil Iranian judges under the Global Magnitsky Act by signing this petition: https://t.co/sodknc0oeU pic.twitter.com/DcLC4kCVQB
— International Christian Concern (@persecutionnews) May 21, 2019