Bishop of Chelmsford asks about freedom of religion in Iran

The Bishop of Chelmsford asked a question about freedom of religion on 27th April 2022, during a debate on the Amnesty International 2021/22 report:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for referencing freedom of religion and belief. Amnesty International’s latest annual report sets out the parliament of Iran’s introduction of two articles to the country’s penal code that further undermine the right to freedom of religion and belief. These articles prescribe up to five years’ imprisonment and/or a fine for insulting Iranian ethnicities, divine religions or Islamic denominations, or for engaging in

“deviant educational or proselytising activity that contradicts … Islam.”

On this basis, three Christians were sentenced to lengthy imprisonments, just last July. I declare an interest in that I am originally from Iran. Could the Minister outline what representations are being made to the Iranian authorities on the matter of freedom of religion and belief?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con): My Lords, I was present when the right reverend Prelate delivered her maiden speech and reflected on her experiences. She is of great value on the Benches she represents, and on this important issue. Yes, we raise the issue of human rights, and we raise quite candidly and specifically the issues of consular cases which are ongoing in Iran around the broader issue of freedom of religion or belief. I speak as a person of faith: the strongest test of your faith is when you have the ability to stand up and defend the rights and obligations of another belief or faith. That is something we pride ourselves on here in the United Kingdom. Speaking on the broad issue of human rights, it is a proud tradition we carry around the world, and long may it live on.


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