Orthodox America

  The Cry of the New Martyrs – Persecution in Teheran

       In Iran, a land of fanatic Moslems, the situation of Christians has become particularly difficult. All women without exception must wear the "charda," a floor-length, shroud-like garment which covers the entire body. All teaching (including catechism) must be conducted in the Persian tongue. No teachers with such capabilities have been found among Christian missionary groups. As a result, the regime has sent textbooks of its own version of the catechism (not a translation of an existing catechism) to all schools. The Catholics have lodged a protest, and the regime has had to withdraw its demand.

       The Ministry of Religions is appointing Moslem principals to Christian schools. In September of 1983, the Ministry issued a catechism in which the doctrine of the Saviour is set forth in accordance with the teaching of the Koran. A translation of the Bible has been made into Persian and printed in Hong Kong, but the regime will not permit its distribution in Iran; attempts to publish a Bible in Iran itself have also proved fruitless.

    A little Orthodox chapel has had to be closed at the demand of the government; the cross atop its dome has been removed to St. Nicholas Church in Teheran, which, thank God, has not yet been touched.

    In the absence of a resident rector, Orthodox faithful gather in church to pray, reading the services and the typica psalms, chanting as much as they are able.

     It has become as difficult to leave Iran as it is to leave the Soviet Union. It is permitted to take out only personal items (clothing, linen, toiletries, etc.). The Iranis forbid the removal of money and valuables. A sizeable indemnity must be paid for the privilege of leaving.

(From the Synod "Newsletter," #49, Jan. March, 1985)