In the Islamic Republic of Iran, although the official religion is Shiite Muslim, many people celebrate Christmas.
Ethnic Armenian and Assyrian Christians, though closely monitored, are allowed to practise their own faith. In observing Christmas, they celebrate Jesus as the Son of God.
Many Muslim people also celebrate Christmas. They enjoy Christmas trees and other decorations; they may even attend Christmas celebrations or social occasions. Christmas for these people is not recognised as a celebration of the birth of the Son of God, but rather the birth of a prophet of Islam.
Dangers are faced by Muslim background believers (MBBs) who want to gather for worship on Christmas Day. Converting from Islam to Christianity is considered apostasy and punishable by law – anywhere from a few years in prison to the death penalty.
The authorities are ready and willing to arrest MBBs who openly recognise and celebrate the birth of Jesus, God Incarnate. For these believers, Christmas is celebrated quietly, in private and only with other trusted believers.
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