Year: 2019
World Watch List: 09
Score: 85
Leader: Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-Khameni
Population: 82 million
Christian: 800,000
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Theocratic Islamic Republic
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
Open Doors supports the church in the Persian Speaking World through:
  • Bible and Christian literature distribution
  • Discipleship training
  • Trauma counselling
  • Christian multimedia initiatives
  • Advocacy
Source of persecution: Islamic oppression / Dictatorial paranoia

Number of Christians growing rapidly

Christianity is seen as a condemnable Western influence and a constant threat to the Islamic identity of the country. This is especially the case since the number of believers from a Muslim background is growing rapidly and allegedly even children of political and spiritual leaders are becoming Christians. This is despite the severe restrictions the regime has put the church. Church services in Farsi (the language that Iranian Muslims generally speak) are prohibited. Evangelism, Bible training, or books in Farsi are all illegal. Christians are closely monitored to ensure that they do not reach out to Muslims, and those who are caught doing so are subject to long prison sentences for crimes against national security.

Islamic character cannot be amended

In 1979, the Persian monarchy was overthrown and replaced with an Islamic Republic led by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Now, all laws of Iran are set in accordance with the official interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law), and the “Islamic character” of the political or legal system cannot be amended.

Isolated faith

Believers from a Muslim background have to be very careful, and many of them practice their faith in isolation. They rely on Christian radio and TV programmes, the internet and books to grow in their faith. If discovered, they will be arrested and imprisoned. Around 171 Christians were attacked or arrested in the WWL19 reporting period.


  • For the Christians in prison for their faith. Pray that they will have genuine love for their guards and fellow inmates.
  • For a change in the country, that the laws will be changed, and freedom of religion will be allowed.
  • For Christians who have been disowned by their families for leaving Islam.

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World Watch List

2019 Map