07/17/2021 Iran (International Christian Concern) – A draft bill was passed in Iran’s parliament on June 8 that encourages the death penalty for those found guilty of spying or cooperating with enemy states, the United States in particular. Iran’s Christians and religious minorities are regularly accused of participating with enemy groups, typically house churches, and cooperating with foreign entities. Should the bill become a law, many Christians will likely face the death penalty for their faith.
The bill was created to address “ambiguities” to Iran’s Penal Code, already arguably one of the harshest in the world. The bill would allow for greater involvement from Iran’s intelligence ministry, often the source for allegations against Christians’ illegal activity. A committee is suggested to be established that would include senior officials from intelligence units, the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the army. Also included in the bill are provisions to support those “on the sanctions list of hostile governments, especially the United States. [They] will benefit from the maximum limit of protection provided … and the necessary judicial and legal measures will be taken to protect them” as well as the criminalization of sending media of “crime scenes” to enemy groups. This last provision criminalizes actions taken to hold Iran accountable at the international level for its violent persecution of protestors and religious minorities.
Iran already increased the criminalization of Christian activity with updates to the Penal Code this year. Christians such as Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh, Ibrahim Firouzi, Bita Rezaee, and many more could all have been sentenced to death for their accused crimes under the new bill.