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Iran: Death Penalty for Apostasy May Be Dropped from Bill

Country/Region: IRAN

It has been reported that Iran, well known for its strict attitude towards Christian converts from Islam, may throw out the death penalty for apostasy from the Islamic Penal Code Bill, which had been provisionally approved by the Iranian Parliament in September 2008. Prior to this approval, Iranian judges could impose the death penalty for apostasy only on the basis of Islamic law and fatwas, not through Iranian law.

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Marzieh and Maryam, held in Evin prison since March 2009 for converting from Islam to Christianity

The Parliamentary Committee came under intense international scrutiny following the recent elections, and some feel that this may have prompted the Committee to drop the apostasy provisions from the Bill. However, there are still obstacles to clear, as all changes to the Bill must be approved by legislators.


Many Iranian Christians have experienced intense oppression under the regime, as Christians, whether from a Muslim background or from a Christian background, are expected to be loyal to the West rather than to Iran. Those who leave Islam to follow Christ are deemed traitors to their community. It is feared that Christians in Iran can expect even harsher treatment following the June 2009 elections, as the government has accused the West of “interfering and stirring up trouble”.


Of particular concern is the fate of Marzieh Amirizadeh and Maryam Rustampoor, two young Christian women who are being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. The women were arrested in March 2009 for converting to Christianity from Islam, and it has been reported that a judge told them they will be “executed as ‘apostates’”. Maryam and Marzieh responded with courage to this, telling the judge to ‘expedite his sentence’. While the proposed changes to the Bill could mean that the women will not face death for converting, there is considerable concern that they will be forgotten as the world focuses its attention on the political turmoil in Iran.


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  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 19 hours ago

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  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

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