Iran uses criminal law to persecute Christians

Thursday, June 24, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Iran is persecuting Christians in the country by wielding against them a new law that severely punishes "any deviant education that contradicts sacred Islamic shari'a,” Christian Today reports.

Signed into law by outgoing president Hassan Rouhani in February, Article 500-bis criminalizes "sectarian activities", and provides that "any deviant education or propaganda that contradicts or interferes with the sacred Islamic shari'a, will be severely punished," Christian Today reports. The law carries prison terms of up to five years, a voting ban of up to 15 years, and hefty fines.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Iranian authorities are using the law to persecute faith groups that believe differently from Iran’s Twelver Shiism state religion.

While Christians in Iran were previously arrested and jailed under security laws, this week three Christians were put on trial for alleged violations of Article 500-bis, Christian Today reports. All Christian converts from Islam, Amin Khaki, Milad Goudarzi and Alireza Nourmohammadi, from Karaj, northern Iran, have been charged with "sectarian activities" and "engaging in propaganda against the Islamic regime".

Condemning the law and its use against Christians and other minority groups in Iran, CSW Founder President Mervyn Thomas said in a statement: "We call upon the Iranian authorities to repeal this and similar laws which hinder the full realization of fundamental human rights for the Iranian people, and to end the relentless campaign of harassment of Christians and other religious minorities through the judicial system."