Iran: Iranian released pastor acquittal shows urgent need to allow religious freedom

Iran: Iranian released pastor acquittal shows urgent need to allow religious freedom

Azerbaijan, Baku, September 11 /Trend A. Ismayilov/

The acquittal of Pastor Yousef Naderkhani in a re-trial in Iran's northern Gilan province demonstrates just why the Iranian authorities must guarantee the rights of all religious minorities in Iran, Amnesty International said.

"We welcome the acquittal of Yousef Naderkhani but he should have never been arrested, let alone charged and tried," said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"His arrest on 13 October 2009 in connection with his objection to an educational requirement that all children learn the Qur'an - which he considered to be unconstitutional - should not have led to almost three years of imprisonment.

"His trial at the end of September 2011 on the charge of apostasy - which is not even an offence in Iran's current Penal Code - put the lie to Iran's claims that it tolerates religious minorities," she added.

Under Article 167 of Iran's Constitution, judges are required to use "authoritative Islamic sources and authentic fatwas" to rule on matters not covered by Iranian legislation.

International human rights law prohibits this practice and requires prosecutions to be on the basis of codified criminal law only.

Naderkhani was initially charged in connection with his objection, while further charges relating to his alleged apostasy and evangelism were brought later.

He was sentenced to death in 2010 following a grossly flawed trial in a local court in the north of Iran.

Iran's Supreme Court upheld the verdict in September 2011, but instructed the lower court charged with implementing the verdict to ensure that his conversion to Christianity was a decision taken when, under Iranian law, he could have been considered an adult.

The Supreme Court required also that the lower court should give him an adequate opportunity to 'repent' in line with procedures set out in Islamic law.

Yousef Naderkhani, who was born to Muslim parents in the northern Iranian town of Rasht, adopted Christianity at the age of 19.

He became a member of a Protestant Church before being ordained as a pastor in Rasht. He says he was never a practising Muslim.

Under Iran's Constitution Shi'a Islam is the country's official religion, while Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians are the only recognized religious minorities.

Members of unrecognized religious minorities face severe restrictions on their ability to practise their religions which in the case of the Baha'i community amounts to persecution.

But despite belonging to a recognized religion, Christians who have converted from Islam are at risk being accused of apostasy, which can carry the death penalty under Islamic law, while those who evangelise are harassed and sometimes arrested and prosecuted under national security laws.

Naderkhani refused to recant his beliefs during the September 2011 Supreme Court hearing, reportedly telling the judge: "I am resolute in my faith and Christianity and have no wish to recant."

In the latter part of 2011, judicial officials in Gilan reportedly sought guidance from Iran's Supreme Leader about how to deal with the case.

In the first half of 2012, the authorities signalled that a new trial would be held.

"Yousef Naderkhani's acquittal and release shows that the Iranian authorities finally recognized that there was no way they could justify his trial and carry out his death sentence which had rightly caused an international outcry," said Harrison.

"They must learn the lesson and ensure that the new Penal Code, passed by parliament in February 2012, which has not yet passed into law, fully protects freedom of religion and belief.

"All minorities in Iran must be allowed to enjoy their rights - individually, and with their communities."

Yousef Naderkhan was sentenced to three years' imprisonment but was released as he had already served the time and has now reportedly rejoined his family.

Uzbekistan, Tajikistan talk opening ground checkpoints
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan talk opening ground checkpoints
Iran interior minister arrived in Tajikistan for bilateral talk
Iran interior minister arrived in Tajikistan for bilateral talk
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan discuss major issues of strategic partnership dev’t
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan discuss major issues of strategic partnership dev’t
Loading Bars
Uzbekistan reveals COVID-19 data for Feb. 27
Azerbaijan's MoD shares footage from Gubadly's Afandilar village (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Iranian currency rates for February 27
Remittances from Azerbaijan to Georgia show highest growth rate
Belarus considering possibility of supplying agricultural machinery to Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan’s Turkmenbashi Oil Refinery exceeds plan for kerosene production
Azerbaijani oil prices published
Kazakhstan's uranium mining company opens tender to acquire electro-technical materials
Issuance of construction permissions in Georgia down
Philippines extends partial coronavirus curbs in capital until end-March
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Kazakh gas supply company to attract equipment installation services via tender
Turkey's tourism industry puts hopes on safety measures for new season
Azerbaijani marketing platform plans to become regional player
Argentine health minister tests positive for COVID-19
Czech gov't declares new state of emergency over coronavirus
U.S. FDA advisors recommend approving Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use
Increase in malware attacks makes cybersecurity more relevant than ever - Kaspersky Lab in Azerbaijan
South Korea vaccinates 18,000 to start ambitious COVID-19 campaign
US may announce new sanctions on Russia within weeks - White House press secretary
Founder of Indian Jet Airways eyes opening airline in Uzbekistan’s Namangan region
Saudi Arabia rejects U.S. intelligence report on Khashoggi's killing: statement
Israel registers 2,738 new COVID-19 cases, 769,971 in total
U.S. announces 'Khashoggi ban' for 76 Saudi individuals
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 427,000 in past day
Slovenia confirms first case of coronavirus variant identified in S. Africa
UN Security Council adopts resolution on vaccination
UK records another 8,523 coronavirus cases, 345 deaths
Kazakhstan shows interest in supplies of Belarusian sugar, its manufacturing technology
Turkey reports 9,205 new COVID-19 cases, 2,683,971 in total
Iran, Russia emphasize need to coop. in agricultural sector
When will Georgia receive its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?
House poised to approve Biden's $1.9T coronavirus relief bill in Friday vote
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
Azerbaijan discloses volume of liabilities of banks in Jan. 2021 accounting for deposits
Azerbaijan imposes restrictions on import of poultry meat from Estonian county
Amount of financial support of Kazakh manufacturing sector by Baiterek holding increases
Attracting FDI can help Georgia to boost exports of high-value food products - OECD
European Council extends mandate of special representative for South Caucasus
Kuwait reports 1,022 new COVID-19 cases, 189,046 in total
WHO says COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Africa has gathered steam
Armenia has always supported terrorism - MP
EU supports JCPOA commitments
Azerbaijan focused on rehabilitation, reconstruction of liberated lands - MP
Assistant to Azerbaijan's president talks country's success in int'l information field
Baku Stock Exchange to auction off Azerbaijani Central Bank's short-term notes
Azerbaijan records growth of GDP in non-oil sector over Jan. 2021
Azerbaijan discloses volume of fruits and vegetables exported since early 2021
Azerbaijan would like to bring new ideas, proposals to region with help of OSCE - MP
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan talk opening ground checkpoints
All Armenian prisoners of war have been returned to Armenia - Azerbaijani MP
President Aliyev makes phone call to President Erdogan
Number of electronic registrations of businesses in Azerbaijan growing
TikTok is more affordable with Azercell!
Etsy not thinking of accepting bitcoin right now
Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan reach agreement on drilling wells with Satti jack-up rig
Only close cooperation can help demilitarize South Caucasus region - Azerbaijani MP
Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping CJSC receives int'l certificate in use of specialized software
FAO outlines strategy for healthy and productive livestock in Europe, Central Asia
Azerbaijan's January 2021 revenues from exports to US increase over fourfold
Registration of new enterprises down in Georgia
We have created new realities, Armenia and other countries must reckon with it - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan's AzerGold, BUZ Consulting ink contract to acquire Microsoft license
Precious metal prices down in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan's State Employment Agency opens tender on e-platform development
Azerbaijan holds minute of silence to honor Khojaly genocide victims
Turkmenistan's Turkmenhimiya extends tender for turnkey construction of plants
Putin discusses current situation in Karabakh with Russian Security Council members
Azerbaijan records decline in total assets of local banks for Jan.2021
CNPC in Turkmenistan opens tender for purchase of tubing, spare parts
TPP in Uzbekistan announces tender for construction of combined cycle unit
Iran launches telecommunication projects in Isfahan Province
Azerbaijani witnesses to Khojaly genocide recount tragic events - Trend TV (VIDEO)
Turkmenistan conducts exploration, drilling operations at fields in Caspian region
Portugal's 'Original Features' shoots film about Khojaly genocide (VIDEO)
China will extend tariff exemptions for 65 U.S. products
Azerbaijan reports 180 more COVID-19 recoveries
Russian state official stresses need to reveal out causes and culprits of Khojaly tragedy
Uzbekistan to increase number of facilities recording water based on 'smart water’ technology
Uzbekistan’s 2020 volume of foreign direct investments down
Nothing must divert involved sides from main task in Nagorno-Karabakh region - Russian MFA
Kazakhstan reports increase in agriculture yield year-on-year
Iran's export to Spain declines
EU overseeing several projects to reinforce renewable energy use in Georgia
Azerbaijani population honoring memory of victims of Khojaly genocide (PHOTO)
Despite events in Armenia, it's necessary to continue implementation of agreements on Nagorno-Karabakh - Russian official
Azerbaijan jointly with Turkey to improve gaming industry - Game Tech
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine reduces transmission after one dose
India's April-Jan fiscal deficit hits 66.8% of full-year target
Azerbaijan discloses amount of compensations paid to depositors of closed banks
Turkmenistan, Russia considering co-op in construction, electrification of railways
EBRD reveals info on investments in Azerbaijani projects
Turkey to ask Russia for discount on natural gas imports
European Council President Charles Michel to visit Georgia
Spain lowers import of Azerbaijani crude oil
WB, BSEC and Georgia start consultations on 'blueing the Black Sea'
Azerbaijani ombudsman makes statement on 29th anniversary of Khojaly genocide (VIDEO)
There will be good opportunity for cooperation between our relevant agencies and international companies - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan issues data on 2020 oil export to Greece
France raises imports of Turkish made cars
All news