Six months have passed since the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, at the hands of the Iranian authorities. Against a backdrop of government oppression and police brutality, passionate protesters in the country continue to call for freedom. As Iranian women and girls seek a brighter future, SAT-7 has been amplifying their stories and prayers to the nation.
During the autumn uprising – and consequent crackdown – young women and girls in Iran suffered immensely. Their prayers are all the more powerful because of what they are going through. Deena, a young viewer of SAT-7 PARS programme Golpand, prayed, “Loving Lord, I ask only for one thing; that we will obtain freedom, that you will grant us a free Iran where no one will be afraid of speaking the truth and no one will be arrested or killed because of their hair [being visible].”
Darya, a young Church4Kids viewer, shared this prayer with us: “Lord, I feel very sad for the people of Iran, but I have faith in You, and I know that You will not abandon us… You are the companion to the isolated; You are healing for the sick, and in You those who have no one have a family. You are there for people and love them all, and You are with them in their joy and through hardships. I pray that You touch Iran and save its people.”
“WAITING FOR THAT DAY”
As of January 2023, at least 522 Iranians, among them 58 children, have been killed in the violent government crackdown in response to the protests in Iran, and overe 20,000 people have been arrested. Some of those arrested have been subjected to torture, rape, and beatings; they have been denied fair trials; and some have been sentenced to death. For Iranian Christians, who were already suffering from religious persecution, there is no golden ticket out of their trials. But what they do have, even during the darkest of circumstances, is hope.
“In this world, crises will never end,” said Fereshteh, co-presenter of Principles of Faith. “In every phase of their lives, people will experience some form of crisis. The difference for us Christians is that our God has promised that in the midst of our difficulties he will never leave us.”
Prayer is how Iranian Christians remain hopeful. Elena, a woman from Iran, prayed that “the Lord Himself will stand and fight for our nation and wipe away darkness forever from our country”. Another viewer, named Eilsa, said, “We prayed that Iran will be freed – I am waiting for that day.”
Panayiotis Keenan, Executive Director of SAT-7 PARS, explains SAT-7’s multi-faceted approach to the situation in Iran. “The channel has met viewers’ spiritual needs through teaching programmes Our Neighbourhood and Principles of Faith, which tackled the role of faith and God in times of crises,” he said. “Social impact programmes like Insiders and Signal addressed heavy-hearted topics like the rising number of suicides among young people and the impact of this crisis on children, as well as citizen’s rights. We will continue to support the people, especially the women of Iran, through our programmes and digital media activities.”
Supporting women has been a major focus for SAT-7’s Persian programs over the past six months. New Identity has been airing content specifically for women who need encouragement and empowerment; a recent episode was titled “Great Works of God in Women’s Lives”.
The driving force behind SAT-7’s holistic approach is its viewer-centred nature, which requires extreme flexibility and responsiveness. “Nearly every day we are responding to the developing situation [in Iran] and need to plan accordingly,” Panayiotis said. “We need to adapt quickly in identifying topics that will meet viewers’ needs and identify and invite guest experts to share on the live programmes.”