Concluding Observations Human Rights Committee CCPR/C/IRN/CO/3 para
25
Full recommendation:
The State party should guarantee the freedom to manifest a religion or belief and
that it can be exercised either individually or in community with others and in
public or private. The Committee reminds the State party that this right also entails
the building of places of worship.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran names the Twelver Ja’fari School of Shia
Islam as the state religion and stipulates that “other Islamic schools are to be accorded full
respect, and their followers are free to act in accordance with their own jurisprudence in
performing their religious rites” (Article 12).2 Article 13 of the Constitution provides that the
Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians “are the only recognized religious minorities”
under Iranian law. Because there are no laws safeguarding the right of religious minorities to
worship, maintain places of worship or assemble, the structural exclusion of other religious
minorities leaves them without legal protection to manifest and practice their religion or
belief.
Religious minorities recognized by Articles 12 and 13 of the Constitution, have few places of
worship compared to their numbers. Sunnis are not allowed to build new mosques in major
cities, including Tehran. In addition, a number of Sunni religious seminaries have been
destroyed by the government3 and authorities have reportedly been closing Sunni mosques or
preventing Sunnis from gathering for congregational prayers.4 Only 1% of religious temples
in Iran are non-Muslim.5 In Tehran, there are about 15 churches for 43,987 Christians (one
church every 2932 Christians). 6 The lack of official places of worship forces religious
minorities to gather in informal assemblies inside their own home, frequently termed “house
churches”,7 or in underground prayer halls (namaz khane)8 which often get dismantled by
1

CCPR.18.3.S.1;
CCPR.18.3.P.1;
CCPR.18.3.O.1
2
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, English translation, https://irandataportal.syr.edu/wpcontent/uploads/constitution-english-1368.pdf
3
Joint submission to the Human Rights Committee from All Human Rights for All in Iran, Association for Human Rights in
Kurdistan – Geneva, Association for the Human Rights of the Azerbaijani People in Iran, Iran Human Rights Documentation
Center, OutRight International, Siamak Pourzand Foundation, Small Media, Impact Iran, 2020,
<https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/IRN/INT_CCPR_NGO_IRN_42317_E.pdf>
4
Rights Denied: Violations against ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, https://minorityrights.org/wpcontent/uploads/2018/03/Rights-Denied-Violations-against-ethnic-and-religious-minorities-in-Iran.pdf
5
Based on Province annual data reports, as of 2018.
6
Based on Province annual data reports, as of 2018.
7
Joint submission to the Human Rights Committee from The World Evangelical Alliance, Open Doors, Christian Solidarity
Worldwide, Middle East Concern, Article 18, 29 May 2020 , https://articleeighteen.com/wpcontent/uploads/2020/06/F3430b-2020-JointReport_Iran_HRCttee_ListOfIssues-dragged-1.pdf
8
2019 Report on International Religious Freedom: Iran, U.S. Department of State, https://www.state.gov/reports/2019report-on-international-religious-freedom/iran/

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Select target paragraph3