Iran has always been a nation of diverse ethnic and religious groups. Despite this, the country has a poor record in safeguarding this diversity. The diversity in religion and ethnicity has been a source of discrimination which has intensified in recent years.
Discrimination is ingrained within the constitution of Iran. As per the constitution, Islamic rules dictate all the laws of the country and all political power is centralized with the Supreme Leadership. Additionally, there is a strong emphasis on the use of a shared Persian language. As a result, the diverse population of the country has to face various kinds of inequality and discrimination. There are several ways in which Iran continues to discriminate against its minorities.
Iran is known to undertake discriminatory arrests and even illegal executions among other means of suppression in a bid to curb religious freedom. Under the current presidency of Rouhani, the number of people from religious minority groups being arrested under flimsy charges has increased considerably. Prolonged detention and even torture await those arrested this way. Abuse and death are common for those who defy the prevalent religious beliefs in Iranian society.
Christians are one of the major targets of Iranian discrimination. According to a report in February 2015, around 90 Christians were suffering because of religious discrimination. They were detained, in prison or waiting for their trails at the time of the report. Iranian authorities are known to raid church services and arrest church leaders and worshippers.
The Baha’i community experiences this discrimination as well. In fact, it is subject to intense repression from the government of Iran. The Baha’i community has around 300,000 members but the entire community has been branded as heretics by the government. The authorities have even executed hundreds of their members. The community’s members have been removed from government and other jobs, prevented from getting higher education and even have had their businesses closed.
Even members of the Islam community are not safe unless they practice the exact brand of Shia Islam, the majority religion in the country. Sunni and Sufi Muslims have been known to be arrested and even executed. Even those in the Shia community trying to bring about reform are not free from this discrimination.