03/01/2020 Iran (International Christian Concern) – On Friday February 21, Iran held its national parliamentary elections with near record low voter turnout. Only 42.5% of the voting population participated, the lowest voting turnout since 1979 when the Islamic Republic was founded.
A loose alliance of conservative candidates, loyal to the hardline Islamist Ayatollah Khamenei, won the elections. Both the results and the turnout were drastically effected by the actions of the Guardian Council leading up to the 11th parliamentary elections.
The Guardian Council, a constitutional committee that vets electoral candidates, is known for its purging of those critical of the regime or not in alignment with their positions. An unprecedented number of candidates, namely reformist candidates aligning with President Rouhanni, were removed from the roster. More than 7,000 candidates were removed from the election by the Guardian Council. This type of censorship is making it impossible for Rouhanni to win reelection next year.
The fear is that Iran has now set itself up for a hardline Islamist government that has not been since the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although Iran’s current treatment of Christians has put it as a Tier 1 Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Christians at the turn of the century were being killed openly in Iran.