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Constant fear of arrest or worse

February 10, 2012

Dear Sir,

I want to thank the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community for their letter of January 23 in response to articles in

The Royal Gazette about persecution that I, as an Iranian Christian, have experienced in my homeland of Iran.

Whilst I fully acknowledge those passages of the Quran, they were written at an earlier time in the Prophet Muhammad’s life. Under the rules of interpretation or abrogation later passages supersede earlier passages from the Quran and it is those passages which are used by the clerics in my country as justification for the persecution and arrest of those who practice other faiths, and particularly those who convert from Islam to another faith.

Such passages include the exhortation to ‘fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them’ (Q 9:5) and to ‘fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day…. Nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued’ (Q 9:29).

I fully acknowledge that many Muslims do not apply these teachings in countries where they are in the minority themselves, but they have become the pretext for forcible conversions to Islam in the 20th century and even in this century in places such as Indonesia and in my own country. And even if there is technically freedom of worship for non-Muslim minorities they are not granted equal rights with Muslims.

They are classified as Dhimmi, having to adhere to restrictions designed to reinforce their second class status, including the payment of a special tax called jizya. I have experience of those who have found it impossible to get jobs, or promotions, or a fair hearing in the courts. This is so for those who were born Christian and Jew, for example, in the majority of countries where Islam is the predominant religion. However under Shariah teaching of the haddith, apostates from Islam should be executed as part of the state law. This teaching is not universally applied, but is part of the state law in Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, for example. It is the stated aim of Muslim radicals in such places to introduce Shariah as widely as possible in the world to create and Islamic state similar to Medina in Muhammad’s time.

It is my experience in Iran that the state is seeking to root out and punish all those who they consider apostate, that includes my family. I really appreciate that the Islamic community in Bermuda is standing against this violence, and we would ask you to be a voice to speak out for the protection of non Muslims in other parts of the world. I would love to believe that most Muslims practise as you do, but sadly, my experience and the experience of Christians living in much of the Middle East is not this experience.

My hope is that in my country we could have the freedom to worship our God without fear of arrest in our own buildings, rather than having to hide in small numbers in homes with a constant fear of arrest or worse. This is the biggest wish of Christians living in countries where persecution exists.

Having said all of that I know that since the founding of Christianity, followers of Jesus have experienced persecution, as he did. Christians aim to live our lives like Jesus did, that is to forgive our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5”43,44) We do this with all of our hearts as a daily act of worship. It is hard to experience persecution, and our hearts are broken each time we hear of a brother or sister who is called to suffer for their faith, but our hearts are also filled with a desire to forgive and to love even those who hate us. With Jesus we say ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’ (Luke 23:34)

I want to close with a message to all who read this. What we are talking about are issues of ultimate truth. Jesus once said, ‘you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’ (John 8:32). God loves us so much to give us the ability to make choices about how we live and who to follow. I want to encourage everyone to consider again the truth claims of Jesus Christ who embodies everything that is worth living for and even dying for. In Bermuda you have this opportunity every day, please do not ignore it!

If you would like to follow this for yourselves please look at the websites set out here: www.mohabatnews.com, www.fcnn.com (both of these are news websites, please click on the ‘English’ button to read) or to see a documentary on the situation of the church in Iran, go to www.acryfromiran.com.

Thank you and may God bless you,

POUYA

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Published February 18, 2012 at 7:00 am (Updated February 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm)

Constant fear of arrest or worse

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