Iran O.K's Equalizing 'Blood Money'
Posted on: November 03, 2002 at 10:50:08 PM EST
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's parliament approved a bill Sunday that will provide equal compensation in "blood money" to non-Muslim crime victims, a move aimed at protecting the rights of religious minorities.
The move sets new rules in an area of Islamic legislation where guidelines rarely are modernized. Non-Muslims are considered infidels by many fundamentalists, and Iran's effort to recognize them as equally deserving of compensation was welcomed by minorities.
"Blood money" is the compensation a convicted attacker must pay the victim or the victim's relatives. The average compensation now paid to relatives of a Muslim man killed is $18,750. The payment is about half that if the victim was Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian or a woman, regardless of her religion.
Conservative lawmaker Mohammad Qomi said the 290-seat legislature approved the bill in an open session of the parliament.
"According to the bill, Iran's recognized religious minorities will get equal blood money, like their Muslim countrymen," Qomi said.
Approval by the hard-line Guardian Council, which is required of any bill before it becomes law, is expected. The bill has the backing of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters.
Reformist female lawmaker, Elaheh Koulaee, said parliament was also working to win support for similar blood money rights for women.
"Fortunately, religious leaders are recognizing the need to respond to legitimate demands of the time that promote equality and end discrimination," she said.
Iran's only Jewish legislator, Maurice Motamed, welcomed the bill, but said Iran's non-Muslim citizens want equality in other areas, too, including employment in government agencies and the ability to testify in Islamic courts.
Minorities are permitted to practice their faith in Iran, and have their own schools, churches, synagogues and temples. While the Islamic leadership bans mixed dancing, religious minorities are permitted to dance together in their clubs and behind closed doors.