Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
A/71/418 para 85
Full recommendation
The Special Rapporteur therefore urges the authorities to recognize that freedom of religion or
belief entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief and that measures that impose special
restrictions on the practice of other faiths, or that discriminate on the basis of religion or belief,
violate the guarantee of equal protection under article 26 of the International Covenant.
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 his 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 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 reportedly
been destroyed by the government3 and authorities have reportedly closed Sunni mosques or
prevented 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
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
5
Based on Province annual data reports, as of 2018.

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