Influential Institutions

Thursday, December 08th, 2016
On 30 November millions across Iran gathered together to mourn the death of Imam Reza, Shia Islam’s eighth Imam. On this national holiday, millions of black-clad mourners took part in processions, or went on pilgrimage to the Imam’s colossal shrine in Mashhad, eastern Iran.  But the scale of popular participation paints a misleading picture of religious commitment in Iran. There is often a lot of...
Thursday, November 03rd, 2016
Iran’s academic record is impressive, especially in science and technology. In these fields Iran’s output is eleven times higher than the average. Iran is also strong in the other sciences such as engineering, medicine, physics, chemistry and biology.  There are at least two reasons for this achievement. One is Iran’s disciplined high school system where there is a strong emphasis on mathematics and science...
Friday, September 23rd, 2016
About 450 social media users were arrested or summoned and warned by Iran’s cyber police during the summer.  Administrators of groups on apps such as Instagram, Telegram and WhatsApp were targeted, a website linked to the Revolutionary Guards reported. "These people were carrying out immoral activities, had insulted religious beliefs or had illegal activities in the field of fashion," the Gherdab website said....
Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
The United Nations, Amnesty International, and ordinary people all want to talk about Iran’s judiciary and its human rights record. So does the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Larijani. He made the offer in a speech on August 3rd. Iran has the second highest number of recorded executions in the world, after China, for which there are no exact figures available. Last month (July) 58 were executed in Iran. In...
Monday, July 25th, 2016
There are at least 30 million people of Kurdish ethnicity in the world. Most Kurds live in parts of eastern and south-eastern Turkey, western Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria, though Kurds can also be found in many other nations around the world today. Many Kurds in the Middle East want their own autonomous nation. But Iran’s six million Kurds have been pretty quiet on...
Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
President Rouhani is facing severe criticism from conservatives. The understanding was that Rouhani would revive Iran’s economy by getting sanctions lifted as a part of a nuclear deal with the West. The deal has been signed and is in effect, but the economy has not yet revived. Investors are interested, but there is still caution, because though UN sanctions have lifted, the US has kept severe restrictions...
Friday, May 06th, 2016
Newspapers have long been a flash point between moderate and hard-line politicians. Back in the 1990’s under President Khatami, newspapers started questioning the judiciary. The response was ferocious. Newspapers were closed down and journalists were arrested. As the judiciary reports directly to the Supreme Leader, President Khatami was unable to act.  It’s the same today. Recently, four journalists...
Friday, April 08th, 2016
Early in March Iran tested several ballistic missiles, some with a range of over 1,000 miles. The footage of the missile tests broadcast around the world has tested diplomatic nerves abroad; and political nerves at home. Abroad, the cry went up that Iran had violated the 2015 nuclear agreement and sanctions should be reimposed. Iran staunchly defended its right to have a non nuclear missile programme, for defence...
Friday, March 18th, 2016
Late February witnessed elections for both Iran’s Majlis (parliament) and the Assembly of Experts, a body of men with one function: to choose the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic. The outcome could have a noticeable impact on Iran’s future.  The parliamentary elections are being heralded as a victory for political pragmatists (those who are willing to compromise somewhat on Iran’s revolutionary...
Thursday, February 18th, 2016
On 26 February, Iranians will go to the ballot box for two important elections: firstly, for Iran’s parliament; secondly, for the ‘Assembly of Experts’. The 290-seat parliament has serious influence: it can issue formal questions to the executive and must approve the annual budget, ministerial appointments, and all international treaties.  The Guardian Council has already excluded many reformist...
Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
Earlier this month Sunni Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia cleric (and 46 others). There was outrage in Shia Tehran and the Saudi embassy was sacked by angry crowds. Diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi are now frozen. The episode has ramped up tension in the already very tense Middle East. This is an important time for Christians to pray for peace. The execution of Nimr al-Nimr caused...
Monday, December 21st, 2015
Everyone in Iran, including the growing number of Christians, is impacted by the economy. Under Ahmadinejad it nearly collapsed. Prices sky-rocketed; savings melted. People suffered. Under Rouhani the economy is no longer in meltdown; but there are plenty of threatening storms that need urgent attention. One is the huge government debt: at $130 billion it is double the government’s budget. Another is the corrupt...
Friday, November 13th, 2015
Iran’s Shia government is sending combatants to fight against the Sunni terrorist group ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Up to thirty Iranians have reportedly died recently, and over 200 Afghan-Iranians have died in the war since it began. ISIS’ barbarity is therefore impacting Iran, just as it has so many other countries in the region.  Although the West, Russia and Iran all are opposed to ISIS, there is...
Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
Iran's President Rouhani and his Foreign Secretary Mohammad Javad Zarif are not idealists. They are pragmatists. They want to do what is possible to bring more stability, wealth and power to the Islamic Republic. They have had a good year, crowned last Sunday by 'Adoption Day' when the nuclear deal started to take effect.  The pragmatists' diplomacy, both in Geneva and in Tehran, has delivered the key to...
Thursday, September 17th, 2015
Numerous protests against pitifully low pay have been organised by Iranian teachers in recent months, but they have received rough treatment at the hands of the authorities. When an institution as integral as education is in the line of fire, our prayers are crucial. Teachers in Iran are paid below the country’s official poverty line, and many feel that Iran’s education system is being deeply harmed by the lack...
Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Last Sunday the UK reopened its embassy in Tehran and Iran reopened its Embassy in London. This development has been facilitated by last month’s nuclear deal, and marks the beginning of the normalisation of relations between the two nations. Let’s pray the Lord would use this new chapter to bring about an atmosphere where even more Iranians can find Christ and follow him without fear. There is a danger that...
Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
When President Rouhani first came to power he indicated he wanted to improve Iran’s human rights record. However the priority was the economy. With the nuclear deal now signed, economically Iran is getting ready for lift off. But on human rights there has been no lift off. It is estimated there are at least one thousand prisoners of conscience in Iran’s prisons; nearly a hundred of these are Christians. And last...
Monday, June 22nd, 2015
Even as the diplomats start what is meant to be the final lap towards the June 30 deadline, nothing is certain over Iran’s nuclear file. There is unease in Washington that the West is giving too much away without enough guarantees from Tehran that Iran will not develop a bomb. Likewise there is unease amongst Iran’s conservatives that this nuclear deal will give the West an open door that will threaten the country’s...
Friday, June 05th, 2015
Iran can now boast that its national football (soccer) captain is from the Armenian Christian ethnic group. Rouhani has appointed an advisor on religious and minority affairs. The government last year donated nearly half a million dollars to Tehran’s Jewish hospital. While it has been suggested that developments such as these show that Iran’s treatment of religious minorities is improving, in fact...
Friday, May 22nd, 2015
The ongoing march of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in Iraq is a major threat to Iran’s security. ISIS is fanatically Sunni and they especially loathe Shias. Iran is Shia. Victorious now in Ramadi, ISIS is now just 65 miles from Baghdad. South of Baghdad is Karbala, the holiest city for Shias. The notoriously corrupt Iraqi army has not been able to hold back the advance of ISIS. Given the threat...

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