European Court of Human Rights. / CherryX/wikmedia. CC BY-SA 3.0
CNA Newsroom, Aug 12, 2022 / 04:05 am (CNA).
The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed the case of an Iranian convert to Christianity, who is appealing his deportation from Germany back to Iran, on the grounds of religious freedom.
Campaigners fear that the court’s decision means that the 44 year-old, will likely face prison or death, on account of his religious conversion.
Hassan – whose name has been changed to protect his identity and is recorded only as “H.H” in public records – is a cabinet maker who applied for asylum in 2018 and is currently residing in Germany where he can freely practice his faith.
After he, his wife and his family converted to Christianity, security forces in Iran stormed their house confiscated their books, computer, passports and Bible. He then fled to Germany with his family via Turkey.
In a statement released August 11, Lidia Rieder, Legal Officer at ADF International, warned that Iran was one of the most dangerous places in the world for Christians. She said: “No one should be persecuted for their faith. Iran is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians, and converts are particularly at risk. In the last year, religious persecution has greatly worsened. So-called “religious deviants” can be given prison sentences, national security charges are continuously used to target religious minorities. The courts in Germany must take this into account when processing asylum applications.”
Hassan’s conversion to Christianity was inspired by the witness of his brother-in-law who was imprisoned for his practicing his Christian faith and subsequently killed. His brother-in-law’s wife was also abused.
“My wife’s brother had become a different person by becoming a Christian. We wanted to see if we would get this feeling when we became Christians,” H.H. said in his application to the German authorities.
But the Greifswald Administrative Court, which heard Hassan’s case after it was rejected by the German authorities, said it was “not particularly likely” that a Muslim would convert to Christianity given what had happened to his brother in-law and his wife, following their conversions.
This week, the European Court of Human Rights then refused to hear arguments in Hassan’s defence, which campaigners claim leave him at significant risk of deportation.
In a statement prepared by ADF International, Hassan explained: “I had had many problems in Iran…I had many questions, but I was not allowed to ask them. When I asked questions, I was beaten at school. This led me to want to know which God I was facing. One day my brother-in-law said to me and my wife that he had good news. There is a treasure, there is a living God, Jesus Christ, we are His children and not His slaves…He said there is a free salvation available…In Germany I share the Gospel, I organize prayer circles here in the accommodation. I want to be a good example, to win the others to faith in Jesus Christ. My greatest goal would be for my children to be able to find Christ in freedom, and to do good.”
In August 11 statement, Kelsey Zorzi, Director of Global Religious Freedom at ADF International, said: “Iran systematically fails to protect its citizens’ right to religious freedom. Iranian law must be amended to be brought into accordance with international human rights law, which protects the right of every individual to choose and freely practice their faith. Until this happens, countries like Germany have a responsibility to help to protect vulnerable religious minorities when they have an opportunity to do so. Ignoring that responsibility can have fatal consequences.”