Saturday, January 4, 2020

Christians and non-Muslims In Middle-East concerned over Iran's threats of retaliation.

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC). My comments follow immediately below the press release. Please check out the ICC website at www.persecution.org for more on the persecution and genocide of Christians around the world.

Iranian Regime Takes Posture of Aggression Toward Non-Muslims

01/03/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on January 2, 2020, an airstrike targeted senior Iranian and Iraqi leadership within the vicinity of Baghdad’s airport. General Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force, was one of the men killed in the airstrike. Iran was quick to declare his assassination as a war crime against Muslims and has promised reprisals. The other men killed were militiamen supported by Iran.

As head of the Quds Force, Soleimani’s job description primarily involved organizing Iran’s proxy militias in the region. However, as a key leader within the IRGC structure, his role also included protecting the ideology of Iran’s Islamic government. He was just as ruthless within Iran as he was outside of the country. Soleimani was a celebrity figure within the Iranian regime, and his speeches were famous among IRGC’s leadership.

“For many Iranians, Qassem Soleimani was a warmonger,” tweeted Iranian human rights activist Masih Alinejad. 

"Unfortunately, Western media misses the point by glorifying Soleimani. He was the common enemy for people in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria.”

In response to the regime’s threats of retaliatory violence, several Iranian people have voiced a different message. Officials will say the Iranian people want revenge,” tweeted one Iranian Christian activist. “No! We want to see a good life and peace!” 

“People are smarter and wiser. They can see through the fog of confusion created by the Iranian government,” said an Iranian church leader. “The clergy has filled their pockets and left Iran battered.” 

Christians are often heavily targeted by the regime, since they are unjustly viewed as a national security threat. It is common for Christians to experience an increase in scrutiny from the regime during times when the government feels under increased pressure.

"The regime specializes in fear,” said a Christian ministry leader working in Iran. “They make you look over your shoulder.”

An Iranian pastor further explained, “It is the policy of the Islamic government not to put thousands of Christians in jail [even though they easily can]. Their policy is to arrest a few and put [a] maximum sentence on minor offenses [like just gathering in a home]. They then publicize it in order to put fear in the hearts of Christians. Their strategy is causing fear and isolation.” 

A former IRGC member, who is now a Christian, advised, “In my opinion, Christians need to know their position, where they are. We need to walk through the right path by awareness and not to be surprised by anything.” 

Iran is designated as a Tier 1 Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has promised retaliation. They always seek to sow seeds of fear wherever they are present, and they are quite active in the persecution of Christians, who are falsely labeled as a national security threat. At a time when Iran’s Islamic regime feels its security is threatened, we must keep the Christian community in prayer for their safety.”

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Timothy's Comments: I decided to publish this press release because it shows several different aspects of the killing of
Soleimani that are not being covered in the mainstream media. One is the fact that Soleimani was NOT well-liked or respected outside of the hardliners within the Iranian regime. As I reported in my article yesterday, Soleimani was feared and despised by most in Iran and throughout the region as a murderer and terrorist. "He was the common enemy for people in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria."

Unfortunately much of the mainstream media is presenting the Iranian government's propaganda line that Soleimani was a wildly popular and revered figure in Iran. This is blatantly and demonstrably false. In fact, Soleimani's death is being celebrated by many in Iran, Iraq, and throughout the region.

Second, this press release exposed the plight of Christians and non-Muslims in Iran that has existed for decades. Non-Muslims are treated as second class citizens at best, have few legal rights, and are actively persecuted as a matter of government policy within Iran. Concerns that Christians in Iran may face a crackdown by the Iranian regime as part of their retaliation are well-founded.

Finally, I do want to take issue with one word in the press release - "assassination." As I reported in yesterday's article, Soleimani wasn’t “assasinated”, he was legally (according to U.S. and International Law) killed on the battlefield during active operations. Soleimani was also considered a terrorist under US Law since he heads the IRGC Quds Force, which is officially designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Furthermore, he had no legal right to even be in Iraq, as he was in violation of a still active 2007 UN Security Council travel ban.  Please read my article U.S. Airstrike Against Soleimani was Legal and Justified for more information.
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