Christians in Iran who have converted from Islam will now be made to declare their faith when applying for national ID cards.
It is compulsory for every citizen above the age of 15 years old to have a National Identity Card in Iran.
The National Census Bureau has removed the ‘other religion’ option from its application forms, forcing people to chose between the four state-recognised religions - Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Zoroastrianism.
Iranian society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights of and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted. Converts from Islam face persecution and prison sentences from the government.
As a result, many Christians choose to keep their faith secret.
Under the new government rule, Christians will be forced to lie about their faith or face exposure.
The compulsory ID cards are needed to obtain credit cards, passports and driving licenses, and basic government services cannot be accessed without them.
Religious Freedom Charity Open Doors reports that there were at least 169 arrests of Christians in the last year.
There are concerns that the new rule change could encourage more Christians to flee the region, leaving other minority groups vulnerable to abuse.