Today, a group of human rights and religious organizations sent a letter to Pope Francis urging him to raise urgent religious freedom issues in his meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on November 14. The groups write, “We write to urge you to press for an end to the Iranian government’s religious discrimination against its own citizens during your upcoming meeting with President Hassan Rouhani. Iran’s record of persistent and alarming denial of the fundamental freedom of religion to a number of its communities is cause for serious concern.”

The letter details religious discrimination and persecution seen in Iran by Christians, Bahá’í, and Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, as well as Jews, Zoroastrians, and Yarasan minorities. State actions against these groups include arrest, arbitrary detention, lengthy prison sentences for peacefully practicing their faith, closing businesses, and threats of violence.

Signatories include POMED, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and several others.

The letter notes, “Your efforts to draw public attention to the universality of human dignity and rights has been widely recognized as a welcome addition to the global political dialogue. We strongly believe that if you were to draw public attention to religious freedom in Iran, it could advance the rights of many Iranians. We urge you to use your historic meeting with President Rouhani as an opportunity to encourage greater religious freedom for Iranians of all faiths and beliefs.”

For a full copy of the letter, click here.

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