|Iran introduces law that imposes death penalty on converts |
Friday, 8th February 2008. 10:24am
By: George Conger.
LEGISLATION has been brought by the government of President Mahmoud Amadinejad before the Iranian Majlis that would mandate the death penalty for apostates from Islam. The law's reach would be worldwide, the legislation says.
The legislation used the word "Hadd -- meaning that it explicitly sets death as a fixed punishment that cannot be changed, reduced or annulled. In the past, the death penalty has been handed down, and also carried out, in apostasy cases, but it has never before been set down in law," the Institute's president, Joseph Grieboski said.
Islam's five major schools of jurisprudence, the Madh'hab, currently hold that converts from Islam must be executed. However, in the Middle Ages several leading Islamic jurists rejected the death penalty --- as do a number of moderate modern scholars --- noting that while the Koran condemns apostasy as a sin, it does not mandate a penalty.
However Islamic law distinguishes between apostasy of an adult and someone who has not reached puberty. The 'Umdat as-Salik wa 'Uddat an-Nasik (Reliance of the Traveller 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 juridical work that guides Muslim jurisprudence in India and Pakistan.
The proposed Iranian law would enshrine the mandatory death penalty into the country's civil code for men. Women apostates would be imprisoned. Two types of apostasy are set down in the legislation: parental and innate.
Innate apostates are those whose parents were Muslim, declared themselves as Muslim as an adult and then leave the faith.
Parental apostates are those whose parents were non-Muslims, who had become Muslims as adults, and then left the faith.
Article 225-7 states the "Punishment for an innate apostate is death," while Article 225-8 allows a parental apostate three days to recant their apostasy. If they continue in their unbelief, "the death penalty would be carried out."
Article 112 would give the law an extraterritorial jurisdiction, extending its mandate to cover those who renounce Islam both inside and outside Iran.
The law criminalizes heresy saying that anyone who claims to be a Prophet, or a Muslim who "creates a sect based on that which is contrary to the obligations and necessities of Islam, is considered an apostate."
Those who practice "witchcraft" shall also be "sentenced to death."
Isn't the end of all this quite clear yet?"The draft penal code is gross violation of fundamental and human rights by a regime that has repeatedly abused religious and other minorities," said Mr Grieboski. "This is simply another legislative attempt on the part of the Iranian regime to persecute religious minorities."
The proposed laws were "a legislative tool to consolidate power around the regime and extend its religious tyranny globally," Mr Grieboski said, and should be condemned by the international community.
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, Nigeria, 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 apostasy laws.