Next week Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will be visiting New Zealand with the goal of building relationships, with talks likely to focus on trade and economic links.
I became curious.
Zarif was involved in negotiations to lift sanctions off Iran in return for downgrading their nuclear capabilities over the next decade, even receiving a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
Even if Zarif and Iran stay true to their part of the deal with the Security Council, there are still other concerns about Iran. This post will just focus on three topics close to our hearts at Ezer Kenegedo; fair treatment of women, Christians and Israel.
Iran’s legal code is based on Sharia, so in Iran, a women’s value and testimony is only half that of a man’s. She is very much under the control of the ‘head,’ her husband, which can mean he can divorce her without notice, deny her request to acquire a passport, keep her from her occupation if he feels it is not in the family’s best interest and even forbid her to leave the house if he so chooses. In public, the correct wearing of her head covering must be adhered to. Repeatedly not doing so can result in a prison sentence.
This week brought reports that Iranian Christian, Benham Irani, has been severely beaten while imprisoned. Benham was sentenced because his beliefs ‘threaten Iran’s security and corrupt the earth’. link Another Christian, Maryam Naghash Zaragan, in 2013, was found guilty of waging an anti-security agenda to spread Christianity to pervert Iranian society from the way of truth. link
Zarif and Iran’s current government are seen as moderates. Zarif is a career diplomat, educated in America since age 17. Maybe in comparison to other leaders through the Iranian regime’s history he is a moderate, however, the fact still remains he is part of a regime based on Sharia law, which most in the West would see as anything but moderate.
On his way here, Zarif took part in this years Organisation of the Islamic Conference, (OIC) “The 5th Extraordinary Islamic Summit on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Shareef,” as a guest speaker in Indonesia. The OIC was established in the late 60s. The goal of its 57 member states which includes ‘Palestine’, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Iraq is Ummah, to come together;“as a collective voice of the Muslim world – to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the Spirit of promoting peace and harmony” link
OIC also profess their goal is to;
“preserve Islamic social and economic values; promote solidarity amongst member states; increase co-operation in social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political areas; uphold international peace and security; and advance education, particularly in the fields of science and technology.” link
What kind of peace and security will countries like Somalia and Sudan be wanting to uphold? How do you co-operate in anything with these nations unless you fundamentally agree with them? In preserving social and economic values do they mean the legal code of Sharia that underpins them?
The OIC has been accused by Human Rights groups as shielding states from criticism, except when it comes to Israel, perhaps seen clearly in its rejecting any description of the Palestinian fight with Israel as terrorism:
“We reject any attempt to link terrorism to the struggle of the Palestinian people in the exercise of their inalienable right to establish their independent state with Al Quds Al Shrif as it’s capital.” link
So no amount of suicide bombings, rocket launchings, stabbings, or shooting of Israeli civilians is seen as terrorism? According to a statement of the OIC in 2007 the worst form of terrorism is Islamophobia. link
In 2002 they signed a statement praising the Palestinians and their blessed intifada. link If these statements are still set in stone today in the OIC it is hard to see how one can meet and have truly valuable discussions about peace, human rights and justice when someone has such a strong uncompromising bias towards these issues.
So is Zarif and Iran’s current regime truly moderate? It is hard to come to that conclusion when one examines their actions towards women, Christians and Israel. This post would never end if I also wrote of the many examples of their cruel and archaic death penalty laws, frequent acid attacks on women not dressed ‘properly’ and Iran’s financial support of terrorism. Many inside Iran are crying out for reform, but will our trading with Iran bring any hope of this? Only in truth can paths be made to peace and freedom, and it must be peace and freedom for all. How much will our nation have to compromise to ‘build relationships’ with a country whose economy and way of life is so tightly interwoven with Sharia Law?
Pray that Yahweh would break down the strongholds of religion, the worship of money, misogyny, anti-Semitism and other ideologies that bring harm and not good. Pray that hearts might be changed through the intervention of God’s Spirit. Pray for true freedom for the people of Iran, and for our leaders to acknowledge God and seek His wisdom and grace.