A European court has ruled that governments within the E.U. must grant a fair evaluation of Christian converts before they are denied asylum and deported back to Iran.
The decision was applauded by a number of religious and human rights groups, according to Christian Today.
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of FG vs. Sweden that the Swedish government would be violating the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights if it denied asylum to the applicant.
Robert Clarke, director of European Advocacy for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International, told the Catholic News Agency that the lower court underestimated the severe danger to the Christian convert's life.
"The Grand Chamber rightly noted that Christian converts are one of the most persecuted religious minorities in Iran. Moreover, the Islamic regime governing Iran has systematic mechanisms in place to identify all Christian converts – even those practicing in secret," Clarke said.
Roger Severino of the Heritage Foundation agreed that the decision was well-warranted.
Asylum should be granted to individuals who are being persecuted and fear for their lives because of converting to a different religion.
Iran's anti-conversion laws violate the fundamental human right to be able to choose your own religion and live out your beliefs, which includes the right to change your religion without the government threatening imprisonment or in the case of Iran, death for apostasy.
The ADF's brief filed on behalf of the Iranian citizen argued that the lower court's decision "violated his religious freedom." The Grand Chamber's judgment explains:
The applicant's conversion to Christianity is a criminal [offense] punishable by death in Iran. In addition to the risk of social persecution as a Christian, the applicant risks criminal prosecution for the crime of apostasy. The order for the applicant's deportation to Iran, where he could be tried under the above-mentioned criminal and procedural law, equates to a violation of principles deeply enshrined in the universal legal conscience.
Iran is currently ranked as the ninth worst country in the world for persecution of Christians; merely converting from Islam is seen as a crime punishable by death.