Death in Iran: Converting from Islam

December 3rd, 2008 by

Voice of Revolution posted an article several weeks ago about an Iranian law that has passed its first draft in parliament, which would mandate the death penalty for male converts from Islam, and a life prison sentence for female converts.  The law is currently before a committee and may undergo some changes before it comes before the parliament to be passed into actual law.  It passed in its original form with an overwhelming majority, 196 to 7, with two absent members, which makes it appear that it will almost certainly be passed, unless major international pressure is brought to bear on the situation.  If this law is passed, Iran will have taken another step toward nationally legislating the Sharia laws of Islam.  Up until now in Iran, the death penalty for converting from Islam has been left to judicial discretion, solely based upon the writings of Islamic law, but has not been nationalized.

This law has ramifications not only for non-Muslims and converts living in Iran, but also may affect converts to other religions internationally.  One clause of the law as it stands right now states that converts from Islam living outside the borders of Iran may be tried by the Iranian courts in their absence and condemned, if they are seen to jeopardize Iranian national security.  Men whose parents were Muslim and who convert to another religion as adults would be subject to immediate execution, whereas men whose parents were NOT Muslim, but who had converted initially to Islam before changing their minds would be given three days to “repent” and return to the Muslim faith.  Women are given the opportunity to convert back to Islam at any point during their life imprisonment.  Other sins punishable by death according to this law are witchcraft, heresy, fortune-telling, and swearing against/insulting Mohammad, Fatima, or the Shi’ite Imams.

According to an online British Newspaper called The Telegraph, very little attention has been given to the passing of this law from either media or international public figures. Here is an excerpt from the October 11th article discussing this:

David Miliband, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, stands out as one of the few politicians from any Western country who has put on record his opposition to making apostasy a crime punishable by death. The protest from the EU has been distinctly muted; meanwhile, Germany, Iran’s largest foreign trading partner, has just increased its business deals with Iran by more than half. Characteristically, the United Nations has said nothing.

It is a sign of how little interest there is in Iran’s intention to launch a campaign of religious persecution that its parliamentary vote has still not been reported in the mainstream media.

The vast majority of the information or discussions available on this law is found on Christian sites focusing on the persecuted church, or other types of religion-themed sites and blogs.  The fact that the passing of the Iranian Penal Law, which infringes on the international human rights agreements Iran has officially made in the past, fails to have made widespread international news is a solemn indication of the unofficial ‘blind eye’ to the persecution of the Christian Church and other people groups in many countries across the world.

Friends, we are the Church, and many of our Iranian brothers and sisters will come under harsher persecution now than they ever have in the past!  We must join with them now in prayer, that their faith would remain unshaken, and that the Kingdom of God will come in a great outpouring in Iran!  Pray that the Spirit would fill the saints in Iran with power and boldness, that they would be able to proclaim the name of Messiah Jesus until He comes!  Pray that God will bring swift justice for His people in Iran, work in the hearts of those in the parliament when this law comes back for a vote, and bring this issue to international public attention.

Father, let our hearts be consumed with the Spirit of prayer and love for all the saints!  Let us bear the weight with our brothers and sisters in Iran, and be filled with courage to stand up for truth and manifest the Kingdom of God on the earth, as we have been called to do!  Pour out Your love and strength on those who suffer for the sake of Your name, and let them abound richly in the power and the joy of the Holy Spirit!  Confound the work of the enemy and let your church abound still more and more in the knowledge of the love of Christ and support those who are faithful to Your name even unto death!  Praise Him!

Sources:  Telegraph.co.uk, Religious Intelligence, Global Exploits Ministries

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