Iran’s Apostasy bill changes surprise believers

By July 1, 2009

Iran (MNN) — The Iranian government may throw out the
apostasy death penalty from the Islamic Penal Code Bill. 

The new penal code was originally approved in September 2008
by a preliminary parliamentary vote of 196-7.

Compass Direct reports that the Parliamentary Committee had
come under intense international pressure to drop clauses from the Islamic
Penal Code Bill that allowed stoning and made death the mandatory punishment
for apostates or for people who converted to another religion from Islam.

Adele Konyndyk with
Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, "There are recommendations that what was
passed in September would be dropped so the death penalty would not be required
for apostasy."  

It's not a "done deal" because there is still another
hurdle to clear. "It would still have to be approved, finally by the
Guardian council."

Konyndyk says intense international scrutiny may have
helped. It may have simply been the
government's answer to self-preservation, given the circumstances.

"With the attention on the recent elections,
if they were to pass the bill that would mandate apostasy, the
international outcry would be even more severe." 

Protests over recent election results demonstrated
considerable opposition to the Iranian government's tactics. Many Christians have supported the opposition
because of the oppression they have experienced under the current regime.

Pray for believers in Iran. The government has been accusing the West of
interfering and stirring up trouble. Open Doors USA president Carl Moeller says this
passing of blame bodes ill for Christians, whom the Iranian government sees as
pawns of the West; they could expect even harsher treatment later on.

Evangelism is already banned, and other forms of outreach are
scrutinized, so continued ministry is very tricky. Konyndyke urges prayer. "It would be an answer to prayer to have
the apostasy aspect of the penal code be abolished, but of course, even if this
were the case, there are many trials facing Christians in Iran, and the cost of
leaving Islam would still be high." 

Ask God to strengthen Iranian believers to continue
honouring Him despite pressure and opposition from authorities.

Leave a Reply