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Iran could be a death sentence: atheist asylum seeker

Times LIVE | 2014-10-17 12:25:24.0

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The nephew of a former Iranian deputy defence minister is pleading for asylum in Scotland - because he has become a leading atheist.

Ramin Forghani, the vice-chairman of the Scottish Secular Society which campaigns for the separation of church and state fears that if he is sent back to Iran, he will be seen as a 'traitor to Islam' and possibly killed, according to the Scottish Herald.

Forghani, applied for asylum while staying on a student visa, saying he has turned his back on Islam, and founded the Iranian Atheists Association and is chairman of Ex-Muslims Scotland.

"So far they have said no to my call for asylum," Forghani said. "My claim is based on my fear of going back, because of my uncle's position and my relationship with him, and of course I am seen as a traitor."

His uncle, Alireza Akbari was involved in the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests against the disputed victory of the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and in support of opposition candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

Forghani isn't the first atheist from an Islamic country to ask for asylum based upon his fear of state retribution for his religious views - in January an atheist from Afghanistan successfully applied for asylum in the UK on the grounds that his return could result in a death sentence under Sharia law as an apostate according to a BBC report.

Iran is one of thirteen countries which criminalise atheism and allow for the death penalty as a sentence in such cases according to a report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, as reported on The Wire.

Last month Soheil Arabi, a 30 year old Iranian blogger, was sentenced to death by the regime for "insulting Mohammed" according to the International Business Times.

The regime also recently sentenced a group of teenagers to 91 lashes and jail for dancing to the Pharell Williams song Happy.

According to the BBC, they were arrested for violating the country's laws against dancing with members of the opposite sex and women from appearing without a headscarf.

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