[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]

 

[Adapted from website:] Radio Farda

[Date:] 5 Esfand 1386 [24 February 2008]

 

Islamic Penal Code; “Pressure on Religious Minorities Becomes Legal”

Mahin Gorji

The Baha’i Community in Iran has issued a statement expressing concern over the endangerment of the lives of Baha’is by the Islamic Republic.

The statement of this community, referring to the drafting of a new Islamic penal code, which is currently under consideration in the seventh parliament, states, “The penal code prosecutes and punishes religious minorities, including Baha’is, Jews, Christians and even followers of the Zoroastrian religion who are outside Iran’s geographical borders.”

Ms. Bani Dugal, the main representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, called the proposed Islamic penal code contrary to all human rights standards and international treaties that Iran has accepted. She said, “The enactment of this law will allow the government and clerics, by the enjoyment of judicial immunity, to pursue Iranian citizens solely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

Legalize Pressure on Religious Minorities?

Iran’s Baha’i Community, referring to the drafting of a new Islamic punishment law currently under consideration in the seventh parliament, states, “The penal code prosecutes and punishes religious minorities, including Baha’is, Jews, Christians and even followers of the Zoroastrian religion who are outside Iran’s geographical borders.”

The announcement of the new Islamic penal code coincides with the release of a report by human rights activists on the Islamic Republic’s escalating pressure on Baha’is in Iran, expelling them from universities and schools, and imposing job restrictions on this religious minority, which has also prompted the European Union to react.

In this regard, Dr. Dimitrij Rupel, the Slovenian president of the union, said that the European Union is deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran. Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i representative to the United Nations, told Radio Farda, “What worries them is the heresy of legalizing pressure on followers of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic.”

Ms. Ala’i added, “Until now, the issue of religions and freedom of religion has not existed in Iran as it should have, and many have been sentenced as apostates, but it is unprecedented in the Iranian law to establish a law for an apostate. Of course, this shows that the Islamic Republic has taken another step against religious freedom.”

Abdolkarim Lahiji, a lawyer in Paris, said that with the new Islamic penal code, everything will become legal.

Commenting on the impact of this law on the situation of the Baha’is in Iran, Mr. Lahiji, who is also the vice president of the International Federation of Human Rights, said, “Until now, the practice of the courts of the Islamic Republic in the matter of apostasy was that they issued rulings based on (Ayatollah) Khomeini’s fatwa, but now they have turned this fatwa into law; that is, exactly within the framework of his treatise.”