Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for a virtual hearing on religious freedom and its impact on women’s rights in Iran.
Since the killing of Mahsa Zhina Amini in September 2022, Iranians have participated in months of protest against mandatory religious headscarf laws and other restrictions on religious freedom and other human rights. Iran’s government has responded with violence and the mass arrests of men, women, and children. Women and girls who protested peacefully for their religious freedom have been sexually assaulted, raped, tortured, and killed while detained.
Iranian state violence is worsening in the wake of decades of systematic, egregious, and ongoing religious freedom violations. The government falsely considers Baha’is a “deviant sect” of Islam and has cracked down even more harshly on the community in recent months. Government security forces have opened fire on Sunni worshippers leaving mosque, raided Christmas celebrations, conducted mass arrests of Yarsanis, and issued severe sentences against Gonabadi Sufis. Men who murder women for violating their family honor evade sentences similar to those for other kinds of homicides on religious grounds. Iran also continues to use religion as the basis to target LGBTQI+ people, including sentencing two activists to death in 2022 for their advocacy for lesbian women in Iran.
Iran’s issuance in recent weeks of multiple death sentences on religiously grounded charges of “Enmity against God” and “Corruption on Earth” poses a grave danger to Iranian religious prisoners of conscience and raises credible concerns of mass executions in the months to come.
Witnesses will identify major religious freedom violations in Iran during the current protests and highlight available policy options for the Joseph R. Biden administration and Congress.