Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Worsening Plight of Religious Minorities in Iran

Friday, March 15, 2013 - 10:00am
2200 Rayburn House Office Building


For many years, U.S. foreign policy toward Iran has focused primarily on deterring Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions through economic sanctions. After the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on protestors following the 2009 presidential election, an international spotlight showed the growing human rights crisis in Iran. Subsequently, the regime has struggled to contain popular dissatisfaction often suppressing any groups or individuals that pose a challenge to the current system.

Since the beginning of 2012, there has been an increase in the arrest, imprisonment and killing of religious and cultural minorities in Iran – particularly Christians, Baha’is and Sufi Muslims. The State Department has designated Iran as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) every year since 1999 while members of minority communities continue to flee Iran in significant numbers for fear of persecution, unjust detention and even death. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), “more than 500 Baha’is have been arbitrarily arrested since 2005,” while since June 2010 alone, “approximately 300 Christians have been arbitrarily arrested and detained.” More recently, Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced to eight years in prison for allegedly promoting Christianity in Iran.

This hearing will address the continuing deterioration of religious freedom in Iran with a particular focus on the plight of Baha’is and Christians.

If you have any questions, please contact the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at 202-225-3599 or

Hosted by:

Frank R. Wolf, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC


Panel I

  • Katrina Lantos-Swett, Chair, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
    Written testimony
  • Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel, American Center for Law and Justice
    Written testimony

Panel II

  • Kenneth E. Bowers, Secretary, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States
    Written testimony
  • Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini
    Written testimony
  • Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director & attorney for the Abedini Family, American Center for Law and Justice
    Written testimony


113th Congress