The Muslim majority comprises a Shiite majority (90%) and 9% Sunni Muslims (Turkmen, Arabs, Baluchis and Kurds). The remaining 1% of the non-Muslim population is identified as Bahá’ís, Christians, Jews, Sabean-Mandäer, Zoroastrians and Yarsanis. A considerable part of the Muslim population practices Sufism. Iran experienced an extensive Islamization of law and society after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Religious authorities have the highest authority over the state. State law is largely derived from religious law or religious authority. The non-religious are excluded from the government office. (IHEU)
Article 14 of the Iranian Constitution calls for non-Muslims to be treated in the best of ways, with decency and respect for Islamic justice and respect for human rights. However, this does not apply to those who conspire against and oppose Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran. (BAMF)
The most important section on blasphemy in Iranian criminal law is Article 513. The “denigration of the Prophet” (saab al-nabi, ساب النبی) in the broadest sense is punishable by death: “Insulting Sacred Religious Values and Offenses Against State Authorities” Article 513 – Anyone who insults or insults the sacred values of Islam, one of the Great Prophets, Shiite Imams, or Saint Fatima, becomes saab al-nabi punished with execution; otherwise they will be imprisoned up to five years.
Other blasphemy-related “offenses” can also be punished in Iran, e.g. Godlessness, the denigration of God and the apostasy of Islam. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Shari’a, the Islamic legal system, is in the Shi’ite-Dafa school of law. Parts of this school of law are codified in law – but important parts are not, including the aforementioned offenses, which are punishable by the death penalty. They are still in force. (ISHR)
Apostasy is not seen as a religious decision of conscience, but because of the close link between religion and state (al-Islam din wa-daula: Islam is religion and state) equated with high political treason. However, cases of capital punishment for apostasy following Sharia law have not been publicized in Iran since 2002 following a moratorium by the Iranian justice system, Ayatollah Shahroudi. (BAMF)
The expression of non-religious beliefs is persecuted or made almost impossible by social stigma or tackled with hatred or violence. Government or government officials marginalize, harass or incite hatred or violence against non-religious people. It is illegal to register an explicitly humanistic, atheist, secular or other non-religious NGO or other human rights organization and the like are persecuted by authorities. (Confirmatory by the Federal Administrative Court, 2005)
The expression of the basic humanist principles of democracy, freedom and human rights is suppressed. The “apostasy” or the conversion to any particular religion is forbidden and can be punished with death. Blasphemy or criticism of religion is forbidden and punished with death. It is illegal to advocate secularism or separation between religion and state. (IHEU, 2017)
In 2016, 19-year-old Sina Dehghan was sentenced to death for “insulting the Prophet”. (According to Article 262 of the Iranian Islamic Criminal Code, the insult of the Prophet is punishable by death, but Article 263 states that if the defendant informs the court that his insults were the result of anger or error, the sentence is reduced to 74 lashes According to a report by the Center for Human Rights in Iran, the death sentence has still not been lifted.
After protests over economic grievances and the government broke out in various Iranian cities at the end of 2017, the rules against the public removal of headscarves were tightened at the end of January 2018: “Whoever removes the headscarf is breaking the law”.