Iran (the modern name for Persia) is rich in biblical history. Persians are direct descendants of Noah. Its rulers helped repatriate Jews to Israel, providing them with financial, military, legal, and material aid. Persian Jews were among the first Christians.
Its land and resources also have been fought over for thousands of years among the Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires, before modern-day Iran was created and partitioned after World War I. While the U.S. participated in the carving up of the Middle East and the Levant after the Great War, American policies to destroy Iranian’s freedoms did not begin in earnest until 1953. Since then, President Eisenhower’s administration, and by de facto, the American people, are responsible for decades of suffering, needless bloodshed, torture of a once free people, intense persecution of Christians, excessive violations of human rights, and what is now an entire region’s hatred towards America.
In 1953 the Dulles brothers, who led the CIA and the U.S. State Department, organized an illegal coup to overthrow Iran’s democratically elected government—against the will of its people. In 1951 Iranians had elected Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh as their Prime Minister who was making strides to modernize Iran and nationalize its vast natural resources, which the British had been monopolizing and exploiting.
Listen to learn more about Operation Ajax:
The U.S. government, largely for British interests, a for a few privately-held companies, overthrew Iran’s government and continued to intervene in its socio-economic affairs. As a result, Iranians were denied access to be able to earn a living or live peacefully without fear, torture, or threats of war.
Previous to the Dulles brothers’ actions, a brutal totalitarian regime did not exist in Iran.
The Dulles brothers replaced Iran’s democratic government with an Islamic dictatorship under Mohammad-Reza Shah, whom the U.S. deemed a Cold War ally. The Shah terrorized Iranians for 25 years—using a ruthless secret police, known as SAVAK (equal to, if not worse than, the Nazi Geheime Schutzstaffel Gestapo/SS and Soviet secret police NKVD Troika), which the CIA created.
Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program represented “peace” in name only—as his administration-led SAVAK wreaked havoc on Iranians, who as a result, still cannot pray peacefully in their own homes.
Under President Gerald Ford, construction of two-dozen nuclear energy power plants solidified America’s commitment to providing financial and material resources to Iran’s nuclear program. This policy changed, however, in 1979, after Iranians unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the Shah and reinstate their former democratic government.
At issue today is what has always been at issue for thousands of years: nutrient rich Iran, bordered by two major bodies of water, is sought after by world powers. However, since the mid-600s struggle for political control of Iran, and the entire region’s resources, has been predominantly influenced by Islam and infighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.
After centuries of war, Iran is now governed by Islamic rule under Shari’a law. Under Shari’a no freedoms or rights exist for women and girls, Christians and non-Muslims, or secular ideas and behavior in conflict with Shari’a.
For example, in Iran, public dancing and singing is forbidden. The Independent reported that recently seven men and women were “given suspended sentences of prison time and 91 lashes after posting their home made ‘Happy in Tehran’ music video on YouTube.” It was illegal for them to sing and dance to a song about being happy.
In Iran, it is mostly illegal for women to work, with limited exceptions of “women only” jobs. It is the law that most women be unemployed.
In Iran, women are banned from sports stadiums. They cannot legally attend or watch a soccer game in a public arena.
In Iran, women are publicly monitored according to a strict hijab dress code. Basij militia police regularly patrol and legally target women in public, harassing, fining, beating, and arresting them—because they do not like how they are dressed.
Over the last 35 years, Justice for Iran claims that 500,000 women and girls have been arrested for alleged hijab violations. Over the last decade, more than 30,000 women (including 12 year-old girls) have been arrested for violating Iran’s dress code, which does not apply to men.
Currently, extra-judicial enforcement of the hijab includes what human rights activists call “Vigilante Violence,” or acid attacks. Numerous incidents have been reported of unidentified men “flinging acid into the faces of women with whom they had no history of personal grudges.” Assailants claim they were defending hijab.
For Christians and non-Muslims, ability to live freely is equally dire.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that in 2014 alone numerous incidents occurred, “of Iranian authorities raiding church services, threatening church members, and arresting and imprisoning worshipers and church leaders, particularly Evangelical Christian converts.” Likewise, since 2010, “Iranian authorities have arbitrarily arrested and detained more than 500 Christians throughout the country.”
International newspapers reported that in one month alone last year 18 Christians were sentenced to 24 years in prison for praying and worshiping in their own homes behind closed windows and doors. Likewise, a judge ordered that a man’s lips be burned for breaking Ramadan rules.
To date, no aspect of U.S. “negotiations” with Iran includes any requirement to end Iran’s long list of human rights abuses.
Imagine how different Iran and its surrounding region would be if the CIA had not overthrown Iran’s government in 1953? Instead, one of the most ancient civilizations, rich in biblical history, is now one of the most oppressive dictatorships and abusers of human rights in the world.
Despite America’s disastrous foreign policy and an impotent Congress, American Christians can offer tangible support for Iranians. In fact, they—Christians—have a responsibility to help them. Americans can participate with several noteworthy organizations, some of which include:
Be Heard Project
Iran Alive Ministries
Iranian Christians International Inc.
Iran For Christ/Tabdil Magazine
Open Doors USA
Persian World Outreach
And American Christians can learn more about their biblical heritage tied to Iran, persecution of Christians, and Iran’s people.