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News Alert: Netherlands May Deport Iranian Christian Despite Execution Threat

ICC Note

The Iranian converted to Christianity but now fears that if deported back to Iran , he can be executed.

By Eric Leijenaar

Thursday, 06 March 2008 Iran (BosNewsLife) — Dutch State Secretary for Justice Nebahat Albayrak refuses to give a residence permit to an Iranian convert to Christianity, despite fears he may be executed at home, local media reported Thursday, March 6

Mehdi Kazemi, 19, escaped to the Netherlands , claiming he would be sentenced to death by stoning because of his recent conversion to Christianity and his previously admitted homosexual life style. Under Iran ‘s strict interpretation of Islamic law, Muslims converting to Christianity or homosexuals should be sentenced to death.

Last month, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said his ministry could not confirm fresh reports that homosexuals had been thrown from a high cliff or otherwise executed. He added that the head of Iran ‘s justice system sent “recommendations for the use of public executions to be restricted.”

Kazemi initially sought asylum in Britain , where he studied in 2005, citing his homosexuality, but that application was apparently rejected because British authorities did not believe him. He later converted to Christianity and appealed for asylum in the Netherlands .

International Treaties

However under international treaties the Netherlands should deport Kazemi back to Britain where he can apply again for asylum, based on his conversion to Christianity, argued Albayrak’s lawyer G.M.H. Hoogvliet at a hearing of the Council of State, an advisory body to the government.

Kazemi’s lawyer B.A. Palm told the Council that Dutch authorities conveniently overlook the “huge risks” his client faces when he returns to Iran , according to statements published by Dutch media Thursday, March 6. In addition, he said, the six-month period in which a deportation is possible had passed. He also stressed that unlike Britain , the Netherlands has a policy of not returning homosexuals to Iran .

Christian leaders and politicians have pressured authorities to extend that policy to Iranian Christians. Last year, Albayrak pledged to show “compassion” towards Iranian converts to Christianity seeking asylum, Dutch news agency ANP reported. Within the opposition she has been pressured to show that compassion towards Kazemi and others in similar situations. The Council was expected to rule on the issue later this month.