A new report stated that Iran has been waging an "invisible jihad" against Christians in the Middle East using proxy militias to fulfill "Khomenism," a goal of achieving Muslim demographic purity by creating conditions that coerced the emigration of Christians in the region.

According to "The Invisible Jihad: The Treatment of Christians by Iran Proxies" of The Philo's Project, Iran's proxy militias in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen had caused largely in the rapid loss of Christians in the region yet it was largely ignored. The Shia Muslim country worked hard to create situations that would cause Christians to flee, driven by their theocratic regime's ideal of Muslim demographic purity through the "invisible jihad."

Though historically both Shia and Sunni Islamic governments have maintained the existence of Christians and Muslims in the region, this changed when "neo-Shiism or Khomenism" was introduced by Iran's first supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini, the report said. In this idea, people considered non-Muslims as not clean to live with Muslims because of spiritual pollution. The report further explained that Khomenism, like other palingenetic revivalist philosophies, calls on the faithful to purify Islam and Iran of Judeo-Christian impurities.

Khomeini understood that the government could not mass-murder Christians, they decided to go with forced emigration as an alternative to eliminate Christians specifically in these countries:


In Lebanon, the pro-Iran Hezbollah has targeted missionaries, slowed conversions, and imposed tight clothing standards, alcohol restrictions, and public mixed-sex limits called "mini-Tehrans," according to the report.

The ratio of Christians has decreased from almost 54 percent in the 1950s to 33.7 percent in 2020 as well as Christian property ownership has decreased. While some of the lands were lawfully sold by immigrants, a large portion was lost due to Hezbollah-led evictions and expulsions.

The report also indicated that Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, received directives from the arch-conservative Ayatollah Mohammed Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, who visited Lebanon multiple times. He was the former student of Ayatollah Khomeini who had a strong influence on him.

From 2000 onwards, Hezbollah prioritized targeting the new wave of Protestant Evangelicals in Lebanon, which arose from a revival of an American-based missionary wave in the 1990s. A missionary from humanitarian work Operation Mobilization USA was shot dead in 2022.


In Iraq, Shia armed groups were formed by Iran after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Originally formed to fight American soldiers but later transformed into the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) when an al Qaeda offshoot was led by Abu Moussa al Zarqawi.

Iraq has 1.5 million Christians according to the 1987 census. Their numbers have plummeted to 141,000, making them the indisputable casualties of Iraq's sectarian conflict. According to the report, Iraqi Christians suffered greatly under the control of AQI, ISIS, and Shia militias affiliated with Iran between 2003 and 2017, and they can't determine how much cruelty was executed by AQI/ISIS versus Shiites because many attacks on the communities were done anonymously.

The Shiite Mahdi Army headed by Muqtada Al-Sadr transformed Baghdad's population shortly after the US invasion to make the capital Christian-free, the report added. Iraq's Sunnis neighborhoods were attacked including al-Doura known as the "Vatican of Baghdad" that considered the most prominent Christian center in Iraq. The report indicated a large number of Christians in al-Doura fled or were displaced in camps or the Kurdish region.


In Syria, following President Bashar al-Assad's defeat in the 2011 popular revolt, Iran reformed the Syrian Army and established various militias inside the Shia Liberation Army. While Iran preserved the Assad regime, the civil war claimed the lives of 600,000 people, displaced 6.5 million people internally, and compelled 6.6 million people to escape beyond borders.

In 2011, the community totaled 2.3 million people, accounting for 10.5 percent of Syria's overall population, and divided into many denominations. According to the estimate, Syria's Christian community had dwindled by 70 percent by 2021.

Hundreds of Christians have been slaughtered by Shia militias, many more have been kidnapped for ransom, and many more have had their property taken. According to the research, there were 124 assaults on churches between 2011 and 2019, with 75 recorded violence including vandalism.

Also Read: Iran Has 'Systemic Persecution Of Christians,' UN Report Says


In Yemen, Baddredin al Houthi and his son, Hussein headed the Zaydis group, a Shia branch encompassing around 30% of Yemen's population that launched a rebellion in 2014.

The Houthis have made significant efforts to eradicate Christian presence in the areas under their control. They kidnapped some notable Christians and held them for ransom to threaten the Christian community and murdered 16 people at an Aden Catholic elderly home, including four Missionaries of Charity nuns in March 2016.

The report urged the United Nations to act and appoint a Special Rapporteur to investigate Iran's silent Jihad project and that Iran and its affiliates should be sanctioned by the US State Department for attempting to reduce the number of Christians in the country by forcing immigration or preventing their return.

Related Article: Christian Converts In Iran Forced To Take Islamic Re-Education Classes, Report Says