Thursday, October 02, 2008

EU Lauded for Pressing Iran to Drop Apostasy Bill

[The Christian Post] 2 Oct 2008--A Christian human rights group applauded the European Union for issuing a declaration to Iran that urged the repressive state to drop its draft apostasy bill and to release Christian converts from detention.

“We warmly welcome this strong reaction from the EU to Iran’s proposed apostasy bill,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s advocacy director, Tina Lambert, in a statement Tuesday. “If the legislation is passed by the Iranian parliament there will be dire consequences for thousands of Christians and Bahá’ís living in Iran.”

In September, Iran’s parliament had overwhelmingly approved a bill, named the Islamic Penal Code, which would punish apostasy with the death penalty. The bill proposed adding apostasy to a list of crimes that would result in execution.

The European Union, in response, released a declaration last Friday that challenged the Iranian parliament to rethink passing the bill into law.

“The European Union urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to reconsider its decision to examine the law in question, release all those who have been imprisoned because of their religious affiliation and allow all its citizens to exercise their freedom of religion or belief in full,” read the EU letter.

It also expressed concerns over the arrests of members of religious minorities, including Iranian converts to Christianity and members of the Bahai community. The EU called for this “immediate” and “unconditional” release and the end to all “forms of violence and discrimination against them.”

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