1 July, 2011 08:29

Iran upholds Christian pastor’s death sentence for apostasy from Islam

The Islamic Republic did not invent the death sentence for apostasy. Muhammad commanded death for apostates, and the penalty has thus endured in both Sunni and Shi’ite traditions. And so it continues to appear across the Islamic world, even in countries far removed from one another. An update on this story. “Pastor’s Death Sentence Upheld By Iranian Supreme Court,” by Michael Ireland for AssistNews, June 30:

An Iranian pastor, convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death, may have only hours or days to live, according to a US-based Christian ministry acquainted with the facts of his case.

Jason DeMars, of http://www.presenttruthmn.com, told ANS: “We have been notified that the conviction of brother Youcef Nadarkhani for apostasy, as well as the sentence of death, has been upheld and confirmed by the Iranian Supreme Court.

“The way that this situation is typically handled is that at any time, and without advance notice, they will carry out the death sentence. First, they will ask him to recant, and if he does not, then he will be executed.” […]

Youcef Nadarkhani is 33-years-old and from Rasht, in the Gilan province of Iran.

For the past ten years he has been a pastor in a network of house churches. He was previously imprisoned in December of 2006, the charges being apostasy (leaving Islam for Christianity) and evangelism (spreading the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ), but was released two weeks later.

Youcef is married and has two sons, ages 8 and 6. They were attending a local school when the government decided that all children should be taught about Islam, including those from Christian families.

Youcef went to the school and protested this based on the Iranian Constitution, which allows for freedom to practice religion. As a result, the secret police called him before the political tribunal in Rasht, Iran on October 12, 2009. At that time he was arrested, charged for protesting, and has been in prison in Lakan (which is seven miles south of Rasht) ever since. Later the charges were changed to apostasy and evangelism to Muslims.

DeMars told ANS that throughout this time he has had access to an attorney, and has been allowed visits from his wife, children, and friends.

“However, for the first month in prison and two weeks before his trial up until now the visits and meetings with his attorney have been limited. They have used various methods to try to convert him back to Islam, including giving him pills, apparently in an attempt to claim that he was insane.”

Because Youcef’s faith remained strong, Iranian authorities decided to arrest his wife in order to place more pressure on him. On June 18th, Fatemah Pasindedih was arrested and placed in prison in Lakan.

DeMars said: “During this time their boys went to live with a relative. Both Youcef and his wife Fatemah were threatened by authorities that their children would be taken away and given to a Muslim family.

“Youcef was not swayed to turn back to Islam, so his wife was put on trial without an attorney, and sentenced to life in prison. An attorney was later hired and the sentence appealed. The sentence and conviction were overturned and she was released.”

On September 21 and 22, 2010, Youcef was put on trial, and verbally given the sentence of death. A written verdict was delayed and then delivered, on November 13, 2010, by the 1st Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal. He is to be executed by hanging for the crime of apostasy. Twenty days are allowed to appeal the sentence with the Supreme Court of Iran. […]

DeMars concluded: “Please contact your elected officials using the principle of the Importunate Woman of Luke 18:1-8 who had the judge listen to her because she continued to bother him. Please help us as we tirelessly fight against this conviction against our brother.

Posted by Marisol on July 1, 2011 12:34 AM|


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