What Others Are Saying:
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.”
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