Amendments to Iran's penal code further threaten Christians and other religious minorities

Monday, July 06th, 2020

There is an urgent need to pray in light of a new legal threat to Christians and other minorities in Iran.

The Iranian parliament has recently approved amendments to two articles of the Penal Code. These changes - if approved by the Guardian Council - make it easier for judges to convict and punish those they see as deviant, like Christian converts.

"The new law effectively criminalises every practice which the Islamic authorities dislike," explains Iranian human rights lawyer, Hossein Jadidi. 

Article 499 of the Penal Code now outlines that anyone who 'causes a division in society' by insulting Islam can be sentenced to up to five years in prison, but anyone in a position of authority who does so, or anyone who does so as part of an 'criminal group', could face up to ten years. Article 500 meanwhile criminalises any 'sect' which uses psychological manipulation to either influence a person to make wrong decisions, or to promote propaganda that is contrary to Islam - punishable by up to five years. Further under this article, 'sects' (which would include house churches) receiving funds or support from any organisation inside Iran or abroad could face up to ten years. Property belonging to these groups is also liable to be confiscated.

"Until now, to convict Christians, judges had to have a wide interpretation of the law," continues Mr Jadidi, "Now convicting Christians and others will be even more straightforward. I fear persecution is about to go to the next level."

 Please pray:

  • For these amendments to somehow be overthrown;
  • For favour for those seeking to hold Iran accountable for its religious freedom violations;
  • For Christians in Iran as they hear this news - for comfort and courage.