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The Deep Map

Apr 3, 2023

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief,” proclaims Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. But while the Islamic Republic of Iran is party to the UNDHR, religious freedom inside the country is elusive and only partial at best. Of special concern is Iran’s total restriction on the changing of one’s religious belief and its policy that abandoning Islam is not just apostasy but betrayal of the body politic.

With popular unrest still simmering in Iranian streets following the September 2022 murder of Mahsa Amini, Robert sits down with Marziyeh Amirizadeh, an Iranian convert to Christianity, to talk about her 2009 arrest for the crime of evangelism and her subsequent incarceration in the infamous Evin Prison, where she experienced months of intense interrogation and physical hardship until international lobbying efforts secured her release. In a heartfelt conversation, Robert and Marziyeh discuss the regime’s religious oppression, the underground church, and the importance of outside advocacy for religious minorities inside the country. 

Marziyeh Amirizadeh is an Iranian immigrant born just a few months before the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which toppled the Shah of Iran and brough a radical Islamic regime into power. Marziyeh grew up as a Muslim under this authoritarian regime, but converted to Christianity more than twenty years ago and began sharing her faith with fellow Iranians. After her release from prison, she immigrated to the United States where she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in International Affairs from Georgia Tech University. Today, she is a speaker and author who continues to her testimony in order to shed light on the situation in Iran and to inspire faith in others. Her latest book, A Love Journey with God: From Pain to Love, Captivity to Freedom, Iran to the US, details how God can turn any situation into triumph.