Den iranske nasjonalforsamlingen behandler en ny straffelov som åpner for dødsstraff for alle frafalne fra islam. Også i tilfeller med blandingsekteskap kan skifte av religion innebære dødsstraff.

Det er the Times’ religionskorrespondent, Ruth Glendill, som bringer de triste nyhetene:

Iran’s penal codes are already mercilessly draconian. MEHR has English translations available for download. Underground, the youth ministry of Open Doors, reports: ‘No converts to Christianity have been convicted of «apostasy» since international pressure forced officials to drop the death sentence of Christian convert Mehdi Dibaj in 1994. But in the years following the convert’s release, Dibaj and four other Protestant pastors, both converts and those working with converts, have been brutally murdered.’

The Institute on Religion and Public Policy published precise details of the proposed new code earlier this month. Besides apostates, the code also s the death penalty for ayone who ‘insults the Prophet’.

The Baha’is have reason to be worried. As they said today, the draft code’s section on apostasy mandates the death penalty for anyone who changes his religion from Islam. It also extends to naming as an apostate any follower of a religion other than Islam who had one parent who was a Muslim at the time of his or her conception. For example, the child of a Muslim and a Christian who chose to be a Christian would be considered an apostate and subject to capital punishment.

Dr Nazila Ghanea, lecturer in human rights law at Oxford university and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Religion and Human Rights, said: ‘The laws will give the Iranian government legal grounds to resort to taking the lives of any of its citizens who choose to adopt a religion other than Islam. The code is a gross violation by the Islamic Republic of Iran of its obligations as a party to a number of international human rights instruments, particularly those relating to freedom of religion or belief.’

‘Among those most affected if the law is passed will be members of Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, the Bahá’í faith. Following the 1979 Iranian revolution, when it became known that Bahá’í men and women had been tortured and executed purely on grounds of their religious beliefs, the international community made it clear at the UN and in the media that such abuses were not tolerable,’ the community said today. Since the 1980s, although the community continues to be severely oppressed, the Bahá’ís are no longer facing mass executions.

‘Iran’s government and clergy have made concerted efforts to quietly subjugate the Bahá’í community and eliminate it as a viable entity in the country,’ said Dr Ghanea, who published a book on the human rights of the Bahá’ís in Iran in 2002. ‘With this penal code, they will have legal grounds to resort once again to taking the lives of Bahá’ís – and of any other of Iran’s citizens who choose to adopt a religion other than Islam.’

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Sharia in Iran: ‘Death to converts’