Iranian Christians at the Saint Joseph Chaldean-Assyrian Catholic church in Tehran, Iran. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iran is pursuing its policy of abusing minorities and even confiscating their houses of worship.

Government bodies in Tehran have seized a church of the Christian Assyrian minority in the country, under the pretext of building a Shiite shrine.

According to a report by Asharq al-Awsat on Thursday, Jonathan Bet-Kelia, the representative of the Assyrian community in Iran’s Majlis (parliament), described the incident as a “rape of the places” owned by the community in Iran.

In a speech to the parliament last week, Bet-Kelia criticized the actions of the Iranian government towards his community, highlighting the suffering, discrimination and legal restrictions his community and other religious minorities are subjected to. He also threatened to resort to the judiciary procedures while wondering “what is the use of our presence in a Parliament that considers us apostates?”

Ali Younesi

Ali Younesi. (Press TV)

Bet-Kelia told Sharq that he had approached Ali Younesi, special assistant to President Hassan Rouhani on ethnic minorities’ affairs, on this matter but was told that nothing could be done about it.

Younesi is a former Minister of Intelligence and Security and is personally responsible for ordering numerous arrests and assassinations of dissidents.

Bet-Kelia also criticized Rouhani because of government agencies’ discrimination and restrictions in recruiting religious minorities and their exclusion from military and security positions and diplomatic departments and bodies.

He also attacked Iranian law which states that “an apostate,” a non-Muslim, cannot inherit from a Muslim, while a Muslim, being “the heir of an apostate,” inherits the funds.

The Iranian parliament allocates five seats for minorities, but these members of parliament complain that they are essentially ignored by Tehran.