Published on: August 17, 2022 at 17:54 IST
The case of an Iranian Christian convert who was denied protection in Germany and could be deported, leaving him susceptible to persecution upon his return to Iran, was rejected by the European Court of Human Rights.
Hassan, a 44-year-old Iranian cabinetmaker whose name has been changed to preserve his identity, is listed as H.H. on official documents. In 2018, he applied for asylum in Germany, however the German government rejected his application.
The Iranian appealed to the Greifswald Administrative Court, which dismissed his case because it is “not particularly likely” that a Muslim would convert after his brother-in-law was killed and his wife was mistreated for converting, according to his advocates at the international legal advocacy group ADF International.
If such events were to take place, according to the Administrative Court, they would have a “deterrent effect” on third parties.
The Iranian government believes that all ethnic Persians are, by definition, Muslims and that all ethnic Persian Christians are “apostates”, according to the persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA. It is illegal to conduct any Christian activity in Iran.
Security forces reportedly stormed Hassan’s family house after learning about their new religion and seized their Bible, passports, books, and computer. Family members fled to Turkey and then Germany.
According to Open Doors USA, which tracks persecutors in more than 60 nations, Iranian asylum seekers are frequently accused of feigning conversion.
On the organization’s world watch list of the 50 countries where Christians experience the most severe persecution, the country comes in at number nine.
As the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reported last August, Iran’s then-President Hassan Rouhani signed changes to Articles 499 and 500 of the nation’s penal code.
The Iranian government utilises its official media to spread “falsehoods and misconceptions” about religious minorities in order to affect public opinion against them, according to a USCIRF research titled “Religious Propaganda in Iran” that was published last month.
As reported by the human rights organisation Article 18 in February, Branch 34 of the Tehran Court of Appeal issued a ruling after the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Court ordered the lower court to review convictions against nine Christian converts last November.
The nine converts who were given five-year prison terms for allegedly “acting against national security” by attending house churches were acquitted by the Iranian appeals court. Additionally, the converts were accused of “promoting Zionist Christianity.”