“I congratulate all Christians and Muslims of the world, particularly our Christian compatriots, on the birth anniversary of Prophet Jesus Christ, the Messiah (PBUH),” read a Friday message posted by the official Twitter account of Iran’s Leader.
Earlier, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had also felicitated the birthday anniversary of Jesus Christ and the New Year.
Christianity in Iran dates back to the early years of the faith, pre-dating Islam. It has always been a minority religion relative to the majority state religions (Zoroastrianism before the Islamic conquest, Sunni Islam in the Middle Ages and Shiite Islam in modern times), though it had a much larger representation in the past than it does today.
Christians of Iran have played a significant part in the history of Christian mission. Currently there are at least 600 churches and 500,000–1,000,000 Christians in Iran.
The Islamic Republic guarantees the recognized Christian minorities a number of rights including representation in the parliament, special family law, production and sale of non-halal foods, among others.