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10 Christian converts forced to take Islamic re-education classes in Iran: report


Reported By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor | Monday, February 07, 2022

Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/10-christian-asked-to-take-islamic-re-education-classes-in-iran.html/

Iranian flag
An Iranian flag flutters in front of the United Nations headquarters in Vienna, Austria, June 17, 2014. |  Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

Intelligence agents in Iran’s Khuzestan Province have instructed 10 Christian converts who had been cleared of all charges to participate in “re-education” classes led by Islamic clerics, according to a watchdog report.  Agents of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps told the 10 Christians, including eight who were cleared last November of any crime in a court in Dezful, on Jan. 29 that they will have to attend 10 sessions with Islamic clerics to “guide them back onto the right path,” Article 18, a nonprofit that promotes religious freedom and tolerance for Christians in Iran, reported

The IRGC had summoned more converts, but they didn’t appear. However, those who didn’t appear were called and asked why they hadn’t appeared.

The IRGC arrested four converts in the southwestern city of Dezful last April and charged them with “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” because they participated in a house church, according to an earlier report from Article 18. The IRGC also summoned other Christian converts for interrogation at the time. The four arrested had personal property confiscated for nearly six months, including necessary items for their children’s schoolwork, laptops and mobile phones.

The U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern states that the “mandatory Islamic re-education classes directly conflict with the rulings of the Civil and Revolutionary Court of Dezful that said the group ‘merely converted to a different religion.’”

“The court noted that this apostasy could be punished under Islamic Sharia law but was ‘not criminalized in the laws of Iran,’” ICC noted in a statement

In reference to other charges that Iranian Christians often face, the courts also ruled they “didn’t carry out any propaganda against other groups,” ICC added.

In 2021, Revolutionary Guards were responsible for 12 of the 38 documented incidents of Christians being arrested or their homes and churches being raided, Article 18 noted.

“So-called ‘re-education’ sessions have become much more common in recent years, even appearing in the list of ‘corrective punishments’ on official court papers,” Article 18 detailed.

Converts from Islam to Christianity are most at risk of persecution in Iran, especially by the government and to a lesser extent by society and their families, Open Doors USA states in a fact sheet on Iran. 

“The government sees the growth of the church in Iran as an attempt by Western countries to undermine Islam and the Islamic regime of Iran, the fact sheet states. “House groups made up of converts from Muslim backgrounds are often raided, and both their leaders and members have been arrested, prosecuted and given long prison sentences for ‘crimes against national security.’”

Iran is an Islamic republic, and Shia Islam is the official religion of the country. It is illegal for Muslim citizens to convert or renounce their religious beliefs. Conversion from Islam is considered a crime punishable by death. It is also unlawful for Christians to share the Gospel with Muslims. Proselytizing is also a criminal offense. Those who convert to Christianity usually practice their faith in secret. However, in 2020, a survey of about 50,000 Iranians over the age of 20 found that 1.5% of respondents identify as Christian. Applied across Iran’s population of more than 80 million, the number of Christians in Iran is “without doubt in the order of magnitude of several hundreds of thousands and growing beyond a million,” the Netherlands-based secular research group GAMAAN, stated after the study.

Iran ranks as the 9th worst country globally when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2021 World Watch List. Iran is listed by the U.S. State Department as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in severe violations of religious freedom. 

‘Screams echoed throughout the building’: Women raped, tortured in China’s ‘re-education’ camps


Reported By Leah MarieAnn Klett, Christian Post Reporter 

Ethnic Uyghur members of the Communist Party of China carry a flag as they take part in an organized tour on June 30, 2017, in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province, China. Kashgar has long been considered the cultural heart of Xinjiang for the province’s nearly 10 million Muslim Uyghurs. At an historic crossroads linking China to Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, the city has changed under Chinese rule with government development, unofficial Han Chinese settlement to the western province, and restrictions imposed by the Communist Party. Beijing says it regards Kashgar’s development as an improvement to the local economy, but many Uyghurs consider it a threat that is eroding their language, traditions, and cultural identity. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Women imprisoned in China’s network of internment camps in Xinjiang are subject to horrific torture, systematic rape, and sexual abuse as the country’s Communist leadership seeks to “destroy” those it sees as a threat, a graphic new report has revealed.

report from the BBC highlights interviews from several former detainees and a guard who shared firsthand accounts of their horrific experiences in China’s internment camps in the Xinjiang region. Estimates suggest that over 1 million to as many as 3 million Uyghur Muslims and other minority groups in Western China have been subject to these internment camps, which are intended to strip Uyghurs and other minorities “of their culture, language and religion, and indoctrinate them into mainstream Chinese culture.”

Tursunay Ziawudun, a woman who spent nine months inside one of these camps before fleeing to the U.S., told the BBC that women were removed from the cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. She said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men. She also recalled how police tortured her with electric shocks and, in one instance, violently abused her when she was unsure of her husband’s whereabouts, kicking her with their heavy boots. Because of the severity of the abuse, rape, and torture, Ziawudun said that there were “many people in those cells who lost their minds.”

“Their goal is to destroy everyone,” she said. “And everybody knows it.”

Gulzira Auelkhan, a Kazakh woman from Xinjiang who was detained for 18 months in the camp system, recounted how she was forced to strip Uyghur women naked and handcuff them before leaving them alone with Chinese men.

“My job was to remove their clothes above the waist and handcuff them so they cannot move,” she recalled. “Then I would leave the women in the room and a man would enter —  some Chinese man from outside or policeman. I sat silently next to the door, and when the man left the room I took the woman for a shower.”

The Chinese men “would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates,” she said, stressing that the physical violence she witnessed amounted to “rape.”

Qelbinur Sedik, an Uzbek woman from Xinjiang, who was forced to give language lessons to the detainees, said the women’s camp was “tightly controlled.” She said there were “four kinds of electric shock” women would be subjected to — “the chair, the glove, the helmet, and anal rape with a stick.”

“The screams echoed throughout the building,” she told the BBC. “I could hear them during lunch and sometimes when I was in class.”

Sedik said that one time, she asked a Chinese camp policewoman about the rumors of rape. The women replied, “Yes, the rape has become a culture. It is gang rape and the Chinese police not only rape them but also electrocute them. They are subject to horrific torture.”

Interviewees also shared how they were required to watch propaganda videos praising Chinese President Xi Jinping and sing patriotic songs. They were also forced to undergo medical tests, take pills, and were forcibly injected every 15 days with a “vaccine” that brought on nausea and numbness. Women were also forcibly injected with IUDs or sterilized.

One former prison guard shared how women were forced to memorize books about Xi Jinping. Those who failed to complete the task were punished with food deprivation and beatings.

“I entered those camps. I took detainees into those camps,” he said. “I saw those sick, miserable people. They definitely experienced various types of torture. I am sure about that.”

China has repeatedly denied that it is persecuting ethnic groups in Xinjiang; however, reports reveal it is actually expanding its network of detention facilities.

An earlier report documented how hospitals in Xinjiang were ordered to abort and kill all babies born in excess of China’s mandated family planning limits — including newborns born after being carried to full term. The orders were part of strict family-planning policies intended to restrict Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities to three children.

In January, the former Trump administration officially designated China’s persecution of minorities in western Xinjiang Province as “genocide” and “crimes against humanity.”

“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time, adding that the Chinese Communist Party — which he described as a “Marxist-Leninist regime that exerts power over the long-suffering Chinese people through brainwashing and brute force” — is “engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group.”

The Biden administration has not stated whether it would maintain the previous administration’s declaration that China is committing genocide against its Uyghur population. White House Press Secretary Psaki told reporters at a press briefing that Biden has “spoken before to the horrific treatment” of Uyghurs, but she will “check” what the Biden administration’s policy will be, RCP previously reported. However, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that he believes genocide had been committed against the Uyghurs.

Christian leaders have urged Christians in the West to care about the persecution of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities. In September, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said that the crimes being perpetrated against religious minorities in China and elsewhere rely on invisibility “where the rest of the world doesn’t pay attention” and “tribalism.”

“The way of Jesus Christ says that we pay attention to our neighbor on the side of the road who is persecuted, who is being beaten,” he said. “So let’s pray for the Uyghur [and] for other persecuted peoples. Let’s pray not just individually, but together, and pray for them by name.”

“Let’s be the people who stand up for whoever is being made invisible, whoever is being intimidated and bullied in our own neighborhoods and in our own communities because we’re the people of Jesus Christ.”

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