Islamic Tolerance Alert. “Iran: Death Penalty Proposed for ‘Apostates’,” from Compass Direct:
ISTANBUL, February 8 (Compass Direct News) — The Iranian parliament may mandate the death penalty for citizens who leave Islam, a human rights group announced this week.
For the first time in Iranian history, a proposed penal code demands the death penalty for “apostates,” according to a February 5 statement by the Institute on Religion and Public Policy (IRPP).
“Apostasy was always illegal, but the court could hand down a jail term, hard labor or the death penalty,” said IRPP President Joseph Grieboski. “Now apostasy [would only] get the death penalty.”
Iran has used the “apostasy” law to target Muslim converts to Christianity, liberal thinkers and members of Iran’s Baha”i religious minority.
“This is not something new, they just want to be more harsh towards those who are leaving Islam,” an Iranian pastor told Compass.
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 murderers of the Christians have never been brought to justice. Local believers suspect the government played a role in the killings.
“They began assassinating pastors and Christian workers,” said the Iranian pastor, who requested anonymity. “Legally, they did not take them to court, but they just killed them and said that they hanged themselves and gave some other excuses.”
“˜Hardship” for Women
The penal code proposal, already approved by the Iranian cabinet a month ago, appears to have the necessary parliamentary backing to be passed, an Iranian Christian told Compass.
Article 225 of the draft, posted on the IRPP website, stipulates two kinds of “apostasy,” “innate and parental,” both of which warrant the death penalty.
Innate “apostates” are those who grow up with at least one Muslim parent, are Muslims at the age of maturity and then later leave the faith, the article states.
“Punishment for an Innate Apostate is death,” section seven of the article stipulates.
Known as “parental apostates,” citizens who grow up in non-Muslim homes, convert to Islam as adults and then later decide to leave are to be given a chance to repent before their execution, the draft states.
–¦ After the final sentencing for three days, he/she would be guided to the right path and encouraged to recant his/her belief,” the article stipulates. –¦ If he/she refused, the death penalty would be carried out.”
Though sections of the draft appear to indicate that both men and women can be executed for apostasy, others limit execution to males who leave Islam. Section 225-10 states that convicted female “apostates” will be imprisoned for life.