- European Court of Human Rights to hear case of Christian Iranian asylum-seekers in Russia
- ADF International urges Court to protect rights of persecuted Christians
STRASBOURG (31 October 2019) – On 31 October, ADF International filed an intervention in the case M. F. and Others v. Russia, urging the European Court of Human Rights to protect the fundamental freedoms of Iranian asylum seekers. In 2018, the Russian authorities detained two Iranian converts to Christianity and ordered their deportation to their home country. Christians in Iran, especially converts, face both social and legal discrimination. Converts have faced penalties up to and including death in the past.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. Our society has a responsibility to protect those who are facing torture, imprisonment or death due to their religious beliefs. Iran is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians with both preaching and conversion being illegal. Converts face social exclusion, arrest, and long prison sentences. Studies show that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world and the European Court of Human Rights has rightly invited submissions on the situation that converts face in Iran,” said Lorcán Price, Legal Counsel for ADF International in Strasbourg.
Christian persecution in Iran
According to Pew Research Centre, Iran is one of the top ten countries with high levels of government harassment of religious groups. In Iran, converts are often considered a threat to ‘national security’. As a result, many have been prosecuted in national security courts and sentenced to long terms in jail. Recently, whole congregations of Christians worshiping in ‘house churches’ have been detained and subject to threats and abuse.
“Under Iranian law, ‘apostasy’, sharing your faith, and attempts by non-Muslims to convert Muslims are punishable by the death penalty. Christians have reported imprisonment, physical abuse, harassment, and discrimination for living out their faith. The detention of Christians normally also involves mistreatment and abuse, both physical and psychological. Sadly, the apostasy laws in Iran pose a direct threat to those who have converted to Christianity, and we must ensure that a convert’s right to life is upheld by all means. We hope the European Court of Human Rights will recognize the dangers faced by Christian converts in Iran,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International.