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IRAN: AS THE LORD SHAKES THE NATION
by Elizabeth Kendal
|Source: National Council of Resistance for Iran (NCR-Iran)|
(more images and updates on site).
On 15 November the Iranian regime announced an increase in the price of fuel, triggering massive protests. By 16 November the initially peaceful protests had spread to over 50 cities and descended into violent riots. Cries of 'death to the dictator', 'clerics get lost' and 'Shah of Iran, return to Iran' filled the air. Banks, offices and Islamic centres were sacked and burned; anti-American billboards and posters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei were torched. The protest had morphed into an open revolt against the regime. After shutting down the internet, the regime moved to extinguish the protests. Regime forces (including foreign fighters) shot at protesters from rooftops, helicopters and close range, fuelling a rapid escalation in violence. To mask the death toll, regime forces gathered up bodies and trucked them away. Amnesty International put the toll at over 300; Iranian opposition put the toll at 'at least 631'; while Reuters put the death toll at more than 1,500 with some 4,000 wounded. Around 12,000 protesters were arrested; they are being beaten, tortured and forced into televised 'confessions'. The most serious anti-regime violence in the history of the Islamic Republic was mercilessly crushed; at least on the surface.
|Ismaeil Maghrebinejad (65)|
|Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi (21)|
Source: Article 18
Iran is boiling; anger is high, trust is low. The regime is cracking down hard and tightening its grip. Parliamentary polls will go ahead on 21 February. In vetting the candidates, Iran's ruling Guardian Council has performed an extraordinary purge of 'Reformists' (those who advocate more economic openness). Included in the purge are 90 sitting members of the current Reformist-dominated parliament. [For background on the current parliament see: RLPB 408, 'The People Want Change', (24 May 2017)]. So, while the regime might offer voters 1700 approved candidates, the overwhelming majority will hail from just one faction: the 'Principlists'/Conservatives (hard-liners). In 158 of the 290 seats there will be no competition at all. Consequently, motivation to vote is low, for the election result is already a done deal; hard-liners will dominate the new parliament. Reformists are divided, with some calling for an 'unofficial boycott' and for President Rouhani (a 'Reformist') to resign. The idea is to let the hard-liners take full control so they can bear the responsibility and shoulder the blame. [Currently the Principlists blame the dominant Reformists for everything, even though Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the Guardian Council have the final say on everything.] Persecution of Christians will escalate under a Principlist-dominated regime. However, 'we struggle not against flesh and blood ...' (Ephesians 6:12).
Despite the risks - which are considerable [see 2019 joint report] - more Iranians are choosing to follow Jesus every day; God is doing something new, palpable and very exciting. As God works out his purposes, the Iranian Church will need our prayers: for endurance, wisdom, grace, courage and provision of needs.
|Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi (21) protests her groundless suspension |
from Azad Univerity on the eve of exams.
source: Article 18
PLEASE PRAY THAT OUR ALMIGHTY GOD WILL
* continue to 'shake' (Haggai 2:6,7) the nation of Iran to bring down all that is wicked and false so that 'the Lord alone will be exalted' (Isaiah 2).
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5 ESV)
May the light of Christ shine ever brighter as the facade of Islam falls away.
*continue to build his Church inside Iran; may the Spirit of God move powerfully in the nation to awaken Persians to the limits and failings of Islam, and to draw them to the God of the Bible, for 'his way is perfect' and his 'word ... proves true' (Psalm 18:30) while his 'burden is light' (Matthew 11:28-30).
* comfort, encourage, protect and sustain all Iranian Christians currently in prison because of their faith; we especially pray for Fatemeh Mohammadi (also known as Mary) - a courageous Christian woman only 21 years old, arrested in early January, whose condition and whereabouts remain unknown; may the Lord intervene to defend and deliver her. (Luke12:6-7)
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
IRAN: AS THE LORD SHAKES THE NATION
Last November Iran experienced the most violent anti-regime protests in the Islamic Republic's history. Some 1,500 protesters were shot dead by regime forces, 4,000 wounded and 12,000 arrested. The regime is cracking down and tightening its grip. Whilst parliamentary polls will go ahead on 21 February, the ruling clerics have purged the 'Reformist' candidates from the lists. 'Principlists' (hard-liners) will dominate the next parliament, meaning persecution of Christians is destined to escalate. On 8 January Christian convert Ismaeil Maghrebinejad (65) was sentenced to three years' jail for forwarding a text message deemed insulting to the ruling clerics. Also in early January, Fatemeh (Mary) Mohammadi (21), a Christian convert, was arrested amidst protests. In 2017 Fatemeh spent six months in prison for her faith. Her condition and whereabouts are unknown. Please pray.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).