02/27/2008, 00.00
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EU urges Tehran to drop death penalty for apostasy

The European Union calls on Iran to drop its proposed draft penal code which for the first time in the history of the country formally imposes the death penalty on those who leave Islam. The proposal is currently before parliament.

Brussels (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The European Union has called on Iran to drop provisions in a draft penal code that would impose the death penalty for apostasy. The proposal before the Majlis (Iran’s parliament) would also require the death penalty for heresy and witchcraft.

“These articles clearly violate the Islamic Republic of Iran's commitments under the international human rights conventions,” the Slovenian EU Presidency said in a statement.

In its statement the EU called upon the Iranian authorities, both in government and parliament, “to modify the draft penal code”, calling attention to the fact that the death penalty has been carried out in Iran for apostasy but never before has it been set down in the country’s laws.

For this reason, the EU said it viewed with “acute concern” the Iranian parliament’s review of the draft penal code.

But Iran routinely dismisses this kind of criticism from the West, whether on its human rights record or its nuclear programme.

According to the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy, which reported the news, the draft penal code would impose the death penalty on male apostates and prison on female apostates.

It establishes two types of apostasy: innate and parental. In the first case, the would-be apostate has Muslim parents, is raised as a Muslim and abandons his faith as an adult. In the second case, the apostate has non-Muslim parents, becomes a Muslim as an adult and then abandons the faith.

The punishment for innate apostasy is death. The punishment for parental apostasy is also death but after the final sentencing the criminal has three days to come back to Islam and shall be encouraged to recant his/her belief. In case of refusal, the death penalty would be carried out.

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