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Iran rejects death penalty for Muslims who convert: CEN 7.03.09 p 6. July 6, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Iran, Persecution.
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A legislative committee of the Iranian parliament, the Majlis, has rejected a bill brought by the government of President Mahmoud Amadinejad mandating the death penalty for apostates from Islam.

Citing a statement released by the Iranian Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported by the BBC’s Persian language service on June 23, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) stated that Ali Shahrokhi of the Majlis’ Legal and Judicial Committee had toned down the bill.

Stoning apostates was not in the interests of the regime, Mr. Shahroki said. He told IRNA that “Islam has set a strict set of conditions for the implementation of punishments such as stoning, that they can rarely be proven. Hence the legal and judicial commission members concluded that some of these laws are unnecessary to mention.”

Islam’s five major schools of jurisprudence, the Madh’hab, call for the death penalty for those who leave Islam for another faith. However Islamic law distinguishes between apostasy of an adult and a child. The ‘Umdat as-Salik wa ‘Uddat an-Nasik (Reliance of the Traveler and Tools of the Worshipper), of the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence as practiced by the Al-Azhar in Cairo rejects the death penalty for child apostates, as does the Hidayah, the Hanafi code that guides Muslim jurisprudence in India and Pakistan.

The proposed “Bill for Islamic Penal Law” would have been the first imposition of Shariah law on apostates codified in modern civil law. It would have divided apostates into two categories: parental and innate. Innate apostates were those whose parents were Muslim, made a profession of Islam—the Shahada-as an adult and then left the faith, while parental apostates were those born in non-Muslim families and converted to Islam as an adult, and then left the faith.

Article 225-7 stated the “Punishment for an innate apostate is death,” while Article 225-8 allowed a parental apostate three days to recant their apostasy. If they continued in their unbelief, “the death penalty would be carried out.” Women apostates were spared the death penalty, but would have been jailed until they recanted.

The revised Islamic Penal Law will now be returned to the Majlis for a second reading, and if passed sent to the country’s Council of Guardians for final review.

CSW’s Alexa Papadouris said they welcomed “this positive development in the progression of the Islamic Penal Code Bill. However, until the Islamic Penal Code Bill is finalized by the Iranian Parliament and Guardian Council, there is still a danger that the judicial committee’s revisions may not be taken into account.”

She urged the world community to continue pressing the Iranian government “to ensure that the final text of the bill does not include any punishment for apostasy.”

In December 2004, the Prince of Wales convened a meeting of Muslim and Christian leaders at Clarence House to address the death penalty for converts. The Bishops of London and Rochester, the Archbishop of Kaduna, an Orthodox bishop and the director of the Barnabas Fund met with representatives of the London-based Al-Khoei Foundation, the Islamic Society of Britain, and Dr. Zaki Badawi of the Muslim College in London.

Prince Charles’ efforts proved unsuccessful however as the Muslim delegation said non-Muslims should not speak publicly about Islam’s apostasy laws.

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