by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Iran’s judiciary has granted itself powers that will likely make life substantially more harsh for Christian converts who are already persecuted in this predominantly Islamic country, International Christian Concern reports.
Iran ranks 8 on the US Open Doors 2021 Watch List of countries where Christians are persecuted: “The Iranian government sees the conversion of Muslims to Christianity as an attempt by Western countries to undermine the Islamic rule of Iran,” Open Doors explains on its website
Rights groups raised the alarm this year after Articles 499 and Article 500 of Iran’s penal code were amended in February to allow for Christians to be arrested and imprisoned on the grounds of practicing their faith. Expressions of Christian faith have been criminalized as breaches of “national security” and “propaganda” against the government, ICC said.
Judges in Iran now have the authority to issue and revoke lawyers’ licenses, a power that enables them to curtail advocacy for human rights, especially in cases where Christians are facing long jail terms for the Gospel. “Christians may face even harsher legal persecution, particularly with the new judiciary oversight,” ICC noted in its report.
Local bar associations told ICC the new judicial oversight makes it clear that “even a small number of human rights defenders is intolerable for the judiciary,” ICC said.