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Interview with ‘Marzi,’ Iranian Christian convert sentenced to death by hanging


Marziyeh Amirizadeh

ISRAEL – The current and ongoing war is presenting Israel with a multi-front existential threat it has not seen since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

But unlike the previous wars, the current conflict is being pressed by a non-Arab Shia element – Iran. Indeed, the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas was ordered by Iran to sidetrack the imminent normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which would have constituted “the jewel in the crown” of the Abraham Accords, to the benefit of both countries. As the home to Mecca and the leader of the Sunni Arab world, Saudi Arabia is the nemesis of the Shia non-Arab Iran.

Despite decades of explicit threats and aggression, last month marked the first time Iran directly attacked Israel. Indeed, Iran’s many proxies in the region – Hezbollah to the north and the Houthis to the southeast – joined in, helping Hamas despite not sharing any interests with the Arab Sunni terrorist organization other than a mutual hatred of the Jewish state and a desire to serve their masters in Tehran.

While the Oct. 7 massacre was horrific, Hamas was merely the weapon used by Iran to attack Israel. The source of conflict in the region is the Islamist regime in Tehran, which is in fact hugely unpopular with its citizens and can retain power only by ruthless means. These means have, in turn, impoverished Iran, and yet the regime chooses to invest in anti-Israel aggression rather than feed its people. While Iran is rich in natural gas and oil reserves, its economy is in shambles due to its exorbitant military expenditures, its hugely expensive nuclear program and international economic sanctions.

Iran’s economy would have catastrophically crashed were it not for an injection of billions of dollars following the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA – commonly known as the “Iran nuclear deal,” signed by President Barack Obama in 2015. While Iranian-funded terrorism was reined in after President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and reinstated the economic sanctions, the situation was again reversed when President Joe Biden entered office. He pursued a renegotiated JCPOA rather than support the nation’s populace and a democratically elected government.

While he was unable to negotiate a deal with Iran which had increased its demands, Biden did remove the economic sanctions, reviving the Iranian economy. The current Iranian-sponsored conflict exploded as a result.

While the situation seems intractable and impossibly complex, there is a Gordian Knot solution that could bring peace overnight.

While it involves a revolution in Iran, it does not require violence and is, indeed, a peaceful, faith-based response. Indeed, this revolution has already begun.

A Christian revival is slowly growing in Iran. It should be remembered that until the revolution in 1979, Iran, under the Shah, was a close ally of Israel. And while Persia was an ancient culture that was historically Zoroastrian, Christianity in Iran dates back to the early years of the religion during the time of Jesus, predating Islam. Sunni Islam arrived during the Middle Ages after the Arab conquest, and then Shia Islam in the Safavid conversion of the 15th century, becoming the official religion soon after. Today, over 99% of Iranians are Muslim, with 90-95% being Shia.

Yet, according to many scholars, Iran today is witnessing the highest rate of Christianization in the world.

In 1976, the census reported the Christian population of Iran was about 170,000. In 1999, that number was believed to have grown to over 300,000. And while official estimates place the Christian population at around 120,000, unaffiliated estimates claim the number might have climbed to somewhere between one million and three million in a population of almost 87 million.

But human rights groups have reported that Christians, particularly those who have converted to Christianity from Islam, are severely oppressed in the Islamic Republic. Those who convert to Christianity from Islam can practice their faith only in secret, in so-called house-churches.

Conversion from Islam to Christianity is illegal in Iran. Iranian law imposes fines, lashing and prison terms for converts, and judges are even given discretionary powers to impose the death penalty. Converts can lose their inheritance, unmarried Christians can be forced into marriage to a Muslim, and married believers may be forced to divorce or face losing their children.


Marziyeh Amirizadeh

Indeed, Iran was number nine on Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List, an annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution.

Despite this oppression, one exiled Iranian Christian leader, Bishop Edward Hosvepian-Mehr, leader of the non-denominational Iranian Church in Europe, told Tablet Magazine recently that “six of every ten Iranians are prepared to become Christians.”

This astonishing wave of Christianity was confirmed last week in a WND interview with Marziyeh Amirizadeh, a Christian who converted from Islam while in Iran. Marzi, as she prefers to be called, is an Iranian American who immigrated to the U.S. after being sentenced to death by hanging in Iran for the crime of converting to Christianity. She endured months of mental and physical hardships and intense interrogation in Evin prison – one of the most brutal prisons in the world.

The interview took place just a few days after the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash. Raisi, known as the “butcher of Tehran,” was responsible for the brutal murder of thousands of Iranians. Unlike many world leaders, including from the U.S. and the U.N., who sent condolences to the Iranian regime over the death of its murderous president, Marzi celebrated the death of the tyrant.

“I definitely didn’t shed any tears,” Marzi told WND. “It was such a big joy for me and many Iranians. Millions of Iranians celebrated his death. He had the blood of thousands of Iranians and Israelis on his hands. And so, after his death, many millions of Iranians celebrated openly on social media and behind closed doors in Iran.”

Unfortunately, Marzi does not believe Raisi’s death will bring change to Iran.

“We know that he was only a puppet of the Supreme Leader of Iran,” Marzi said. “They can replace him immediately with another person. He was selected by the Supreme Leader who is in control of everything, and the Ayatollah will choose another puppet.”

Marzi was critical of the world leaders who mourned the death of the “butcher of Tehran.”

“It was very disgraceful,” Marzi said. “I saw that at the U.N. Security Council, the politicians and leaders of the world held a moment of silence for the butcher of many innocent people. That represents a total lack of moral clarity. Also, the U.S. State Department issued official condolences for him, which made me very upset.”

Marzi recalled her experiences in an Iranian prison in 2009.

“I was praying to God, asking why he didn’t destroy these cruel criminals who were torturing and executing my people,” Marzi told WND. “God told me in a dream that He was giving an opportunity to these people to repent. But if they don’t, I’m going to destroy them all. When I learned of Raisi’s death, I realized that is what happened. That’s God’s justice. So, of course, I will rejoice for the deaths of these criminals because they are unrepentantly evil.”

Against all odds, Marzi, born into a Muslim family, became a Christian in Iran.

“I lived in Iran for 33 years, and I became a Christian more than 20 years ago,” Marzi explained. “I served the Lord there for almost five years before I got arrested. I have lots of experience of sharing my faith, sharing Jesus and the Bible, and many other Iranians were evangelizing. I connected with thousands of Iranians. Honestly, the majority of the Iranians were open and receptive. I can honestly say that we never even had one bad experience.

“So many are tired of this Islamic regime. Iranians do not see themselves as Muslims [as] in other countries, especially Arabic countries. And they don’t practice Islam in their homes. Our language is Farsi, not Arabic. We know that we are Persians, descended from the generation of King Cyrus. The majority of millions of Iranians believe that their land and their country have been taken hostage by these radical Muslims.”

“There are many churches in Iran,” Marzi said. “We don’t know exactly how many, but based on the research by some Christian ministries, Iran has the fastest growing churches in the world.”

But taking on the Christian faith is only part of the change that is imminent in Iran.

Marzi noted that before the Islamic Revolution, Iran was westernized. She emphasized that the Islamic regime is not just a threat to Israel, but threatens all of Western society.

“I am a proud American right now, and this is my home,” she said. “This is my country. I care about this country, but I see how they brainwash the youth in this country with radical Islam. So many youths blindly go to the streets and call for the genocide of Jews. They are waving the flag of Hezbollah and Hamas and burning their own flag. That makes me very concerned because it reminds me of exactly what happened in Iran in 1979. Many students went to the streets, rioting and looting in the name of socialism, Marxism and communism. They supported a fanatic Muslim Khomeini. And now it’s been more than 40 years – and they are suffering.”

“And the same thing is happening in America because politicians in America do not care … Instead of standing with the Iranians, standing with Israel, too many people and politicians are … standing with terrorists and appeasing them, making deals with them, which is very dangerous. It’s so disappointing.”

“The Democrats, the Biden administration are doing this,” Marzi told WND. “I am working to warn Americans, especially the churches, and keep telling them that as Christians, they have a responsibility to stand up for our values. Many of your enemies infiltrated your system, your government and your policies. We don’t want the same thing that happened during the Holocaust when, unfortunately, some churches stood with the enemy. We can’t just sit and watch the same thing happen again.”

“I experienced the brutality of the Islamic regime. We don’t have much time. It is important to know that these people have an evil nature and they possess nuclear bombs. They just fired more than 300 missiles and drones at the State of Israel. They will not hesitate to fire a nuclear weapon at Israel or even the U.S. They are saying it openly.”

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