Sunday, 12 October 2008

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Over recent years several Western countries have been returning Iranian Christian asylum seekers, including apostates, to Iran on the basis that the UNHCR claims they will not be persecuted.

UNHCR TAKE NOTE: As Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports, "The Iranian Parliament voted on Tuesday [9 Sep] in favour of a bill stipulating the death penalty for apostasy. The bill was approved by 196 votes for, seven against, and two abstentions.

"The progress of this bill through the Iranian Parliament is a cause of grave concern for increasing numbers of Iranians who have left Islam for another religion, and a significant backwards step for human rights in Iran. The draft bill will add a number of crimes to the list of those resulting in execution, among them; 'establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy'."

The Khaleej Times (Dubai) in July reported the bill states that those convicted of these crimes "should be punished as 'mohareb' (enemy of God) and 'corrupt on the earth'". The bill also stipulates that the punishment handed out in these cases "cannot be commuted, suspended or changed".

As the Khaleek Times notes: "Internet is widely used in Iran despite restrictions on access and the blocking of thousands of websites with a sexual content or deemed as insulting religious sanctities and promoting political dissent. Blogging is also very popular among cyber-savvy young Iranians, some openly discussing their private lives or criticising the system."

The Defenders of Human Rights Centre, which is run by Iranian Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, warned in July: "If this bill is adopted, there will be further infringement of the freedom of expression, citizens' judicial security will be jeopardised and executions will increase."

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