Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
A/HRC/34/65 para 92
Full recommendation:
The Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to recognise that freedom of religion or belief
entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, and that measures restricting eligibility for
civil, political, social or economic privileges, or imposing special restrictions on the practice of
other faiths, violate the prohibition of discrimination based on religion or belief and the
guarantee of equal protection under article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1
The Iranian legal framework does not adequately protect the right to freedom of religion or
belief, including the right to have or to adopt a religion of one’s own choice.
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 recognised religious minorities” under Iranian law. Because
there are no laws safeguarding the right of religious minorities to worship, or maintain places of
worship or assembly, the structural exclusion of other religious minorities leaves them without
legal protection to manifest and practice their religion or belief.
Religious minorities recognised under Articles 12 and 13 of the Constitution have very few
places of worship for the number of members they have. 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
1

CCPR.18.1.S.1; CCPR.18.1.S.2; CCPR.18.1.S.3; CCPR.18.1.S.4; CCPR.18.1.S.5; CCPR.26.1.S.1; CCPR.27.1.S.1;
CCPR.27.2.S.1; CCPR.18.1.P.1; CCPR.18.1.P.2; CCPR.18.1.P.3; CCPR.18.1.P.4; CCPR.18.1.P.5; CCPR.18.3.P.1;
CCPR.26.1.P.1; CCPR.27.1.P.1; CCPR.27.2.P.1; CCPR.27.1.P.2; CCPR.18.1.O.2; CCPR.18.1.O.3; CCPR.18.1.O.4;
CCPR.18.1.O.5; CCPR.18.1.O.6; CCPR.18.1.O.7; CCPR.18.1.O.8; CCPR.18.1.O.10; CCPR.18.1.O.14; CCPR.18.2.O.1;
CCPR.18.2.O.2; CCPR.18.3.O.1; CCPR.18.3.O.2; CCPR.26.1.O.1; CCPR.27.1.O.2; CCPR.27.2.O.2; CCPR.27.2.O.3
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

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Select target paragraph3