Persecution in Iran troubles Clinton
Sept. 30, 2011 at 9:11 AM
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Iran's continued persecution of religious minorities is a particular concern for the U.S. government, the U.S. secretary of state said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said her government was concerned by reports of Iran's continued repression of its own people, especially those of "diverse faiths."
"We are particularly concerned by reports that Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is facing execution on charges of apostasy for refusing to recant his faith," Clinton said. "This comes amid a harsh onslaught against followers of diverse faiths, including Zoroastrians, Sufis and Baha'is."
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White House Condemns Possible Execution of Iranian Pastor
By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published September 29, 2011
The White House condemned the conviction and possible death sentence for an Iranian pastor who refuses to renounce his Christian faith on Thursday, saying the execution would further demonstrate Iranian authorities "utter disregard" for religious freedom.
Youcef Nadarkhani, 32, who maintains he has never been a Muslim as an adult, has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ, the 11th branch of Iran's Gilan Provincial Court has ruled. Iran's Supreme Court had ordered the trial court to determine whether Nadarkhani had been a Muslim prior to converting to Christianity.
"Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people," the statement released by the White House read. "That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran's own international obligations. A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities' utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion."
The judges in the case, according to the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), demanded that Nadarkhani recant his Christian faith before submission of evidence. Though the judgment runs against current Iranian and international laws and is not codified in Iranian penal code, the judge stated that the court must uphold the decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.
When asked to repent, Nadarkhani stated: "Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?"
"To the religion of your ancestors, Islam," the judge replied, according to the American Center for Law & Justice.
"I cannot," Nadarkhani said.
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Iran Pastor Refuses To 'Abandon' Christ; Execution Perhaps "Thursday"
Posted on: 2011-09-27 02:34:34
By Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Correspondent
RASHT, IRAN (Worthy News)-- A young pastor of Iran's largest house church movement has told an Iranian court he will not "recant" his faith in Christ despite facing execution as early as Thursday, September 29, for abandoning Islam, church sources said.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani of the Church of Iran was asked by the Gilan provincial court in the city of Rasht to "repent" ahead of his next hearing Tuesday, September 27. However Nadarkhani declined, according to comments obtained by BosNewsLife.
Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?, the 34-year-old church leader asked during his first hearing Sunday, September 25.
When the court told him to return to the religion of your ancestors, Islam Nadarkhani replied:I can not.
The Court said however that Youcef Nadarkhani, whose first name is also spelled as Yousef, has"Islamic ancestry" and therefore "must recant his faith in Jesus Christ," trial observers said.
- Yet, fellow Christians following the trial described Youcef Nadarkhani as "being happy [with] hisfaith strong."
Sources within the Church of Iran said however they fear Nadarkhani may be hanged as early as Thursday,September 29, following the further two days of court hearings.
Though Nadarkhani's supporters were told the case will be send back to Iran's Supreme Court, they fear the provincial court will use a law, temporarily ratified by parliament, "to execute himas soon as Thursday," September 29, explained advocacy group Present Truth Ministries (PTM)."This law dictates what should be done with apostates, depending on what type of apostasy has been committed,"said PTM Director Jason DeMars, who closely follows the case. "My sources tell me that [the court has been told] to give the 'apostate'three days to recant, then execute him," hetold BosNewsLife.
Section 6 - 225 of Iran's controversial legislation says when a person's parents were Muslims at the moment they were trying to have a baby, and he or she converts to another religious without claiming to be Muslim, he or sheis a national apostate, DeMars added.
"Section 8 225 also states the procedure for handling a national apostate, explained DeMars. "The death sentence is the penalty for National apostate, but after the verdict is pronounced, he or she will be commanded to repent of whathe or she has done...If he refuses to repent, he will be killed."
Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who is married with two children, was detained in his home city of Rasht in October 2009 while attempting to register his church.
His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran, rights activists say.
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Iran: Doubts Cast On Reports That Nadarkhani Death Sentence Has Been Annulled
He may have to renounce his faith, or face execution
By Dan Wooding
- Founder of ASSIST Ministries
TEHRAN, IRAN (ANS) -- Christians in Iran have challenged news reports that the death penalty for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been annulled, pointing out that in reality the Supreme Court appears to have added a precondition requiring him to renounce his faith, or face execution.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), there has still been no written confirmation of the court's decision on Pastor Nadarkhani's appeal against a death sentence for apostasy, despite efforts to source this.
"Pastor Nadarkhani's lawyer, the prominent human rights defender Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, is meant to receive written notification of the verdict next week. However Mr. Dadkhah, who along with Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi is a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, an Iranian organization, is also now facing legal difficulties," said a CSW spokesperson.
On Sunday July 3, 2011, a court in Tehran sentenced Mr. Dadkhah to nine years in jail and a 10-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime". He has 20 days to appeal; however, sources indicated that he may be imprisoned within a week.
CSW says that when deciding on an appeal, the Supreme Court has three legal options; it can either decide on a retrial, on the withdrawal of initial charges and filing of fresh ones, or on the release of the accused. In this instance, since apostasy is not codified in civil law, the judges may have made use of Article 167 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that while they have a duty to find a basis for their rulings within the legal code, "if such a basis doesn't exist, they must cite reliable Islamic sources or a valid fatwa from which they have drawn a judgment in order to issue a verdict. Judges may not refuse to hear cases or issue rulings only because the case before them is not covered in the legal code, or there may be shortcomings or conflicts in the law."
It adds that the Supreme Court decision in the Nadarkhani case, which has been variously described as "flawed", "contradictory" and "extra-judicial", may indicate that the judges were under political pressure not to release Pastor Nadarkhani. There are also unconfirmed reports of a split decision, with one of the judges allegedly stating that the ruling made little sense. A church source informed CSW, "This is not good news. It merely gives more time to re-examine the case, but in the end the judges will be told what to do".
Iran 'annuls' death sentence for Youcef Nadarkhani - But still his life may be in danger
Sunday, July 3, 2011 - By Henghameh Fahimi | AFP . Sun, Jul 3, 2011
TEHRAN, IRAN (AFP) --
Iran's supreme court has overturned a death sentence handed down to Yusef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor accused of apostasy for having converted from Islam, his lawyer told AFP on Sunday.
"The supreme court has annuled the death sentence and sent the case back to the court in Rasht (his hometown), asking the accused to repent," Mohammad Ali Dadkhah said.
Nadarkhani, now 32, converted from Islam to Christianity at the age of 19 and became a pastor of a small evangelical community called the Church of Iran.
He was arrested in October 2009 and condemned to death for apostasy under Iran's Islamic Sharia laws, which however allow for such verdicts to be overturned if the convicted person "repents" and renounces his conversion.
After his conviction was upheld by an appeal court in Gilan province in September 2010, Nadarkhani turned to the supreme court. His wife, who was initially sentenced to life imprisonment, was released on appeal.
The lawyer said the verdict had been read out to him on the telephone and that he needed to travel to Rasht, where Nadarkhani is being held, to see the ruling for himself.
Dadkhah said he himself was sentenced on Sunday by a Tehran court to nine years in jail and a 10-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime".
The lawyer said he had been criticised for having cooperated with the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights, an organisation founded by Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, as well as for giving interviews to foreign radio stations.
--"I have 20 days to lodge an appeal," he said.
This information has also been reported by The ASSIST News Services (ANS)
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's Death Sentence Upheld by Iranian Supreme Court
- He could face execution by hanging in hours or days
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
By Michael Ireland
- Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
IRAN (ANS) -- 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 www.presenttruthmn.com , told ANS: .We have been
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and his wife Fatemah Pasindedih
(Photo courtesy www.Presenttruthmn.com)
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."
DeMars says: "There is nothing more to be done to help his case from within Iran. The only thing that can affect his case now is international pressure."
"I ask that each of you earnestly pray and follow what God calls you to do. We know that we are called to be faithful unto death and that many are killed for their faith everyday around the world, but as Christians let.s do what we can for Youcef, pray for him and raise our voices against the Iranian regime."
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 said Youcef is now in the secret police security prison in Lakan. He has been held in solitary confinement. Recently he has been allowed visits from his attorney and wife once a week.
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.
"It is critical that we continue to pray for Pastor Youcef and make our voices heard. Please reach out to your elected officials and to the international news media so that Youcef.s fate will come to light."
Reported by ASSIST News Service (ANS) of Lake Forest, California on Tuesday June 28, 2011
Appeal Process for Youcef Nadarkhani
On December 7, 2010, in Iran, by Jason DeMars ..
We have received many inquiries as to the next step in the appeal process for brother Youcef Nardarkhani. We have verified that the appeal has been filed. The next step in this process is to wait for the Supreme Court of Iran to make a decision. There will be no hearing. There is also no specific time frame in which this decision is made. It is imperative that we all earnestly pray for Youcef and the officals making the decision during this time.
CNN is now covering the story of Youcef and Behrouz. We know that this is but a tool in the hand of God, and we are praying that it helps bring deliverance for our brothers. If you would like to read an article that they published, it can be found here: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/12/07/iran.christian.death.sentence/index.html?iref=allsearch
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has also been working on behalf of Youcef and Behrouz, and has published an article calling for their release. You can read the article here: http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2010/12/khanjani-nadarkhani-apostasy/
Again, we ask that you continue to contact your government officials. Most of all, we ask for your prayer. Our hope and faith lies solely in the Lord Jesus; we continue to pray that He would strengthen the faith of these men, give them courage and boldness in the face of persecution, and that they would feel His presence with them.
Iran Court Documents
Youcef Nadarkhani - Death Sentence Delivered
On November 13, 2010, in Iran, by Jason DeMars
Youcef Nadarkhani, stating that he is to be hung for the crime of apostasy. There are 20 days to appeal the verdict, and Youcef.s attorney is now beginning the process of the appeal.
The prayer burdens surrounding this development are many. Please pray for Youcef, that God would grant him peace and strength in this hour, that God would move on his behalf, and that he would be delivered! Pray also for his wife and children; this is extremely difficult for them. We are trusting our great Lord to give her the peace that comes only from the True Comforter. Pray that the church in Iran would stand strong, that their faith would not be shaken, but that their eyes would remain fixed on Christ. Pray also for the local officials in charge of this case in Iran, that their hearts would be changed, and that they would experience salvation in Jesus Christ.
Brothers and Sisters, it is critical that we intercede constantly on behalf of our brother Youcef. I trust that, as the Lord leads each one individually, Youcef will be lifted before the Lord continually with prayer and fasting.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. ~ James 5:16b
Saturday, October 23, 2010 - Iran, by Jason DeMars (Reported in Present Truth Ministries
Temporary Delay To Execution of Brother Youcef Nadarkhani
Our sources have confirmed that a written verdict has not yet been delivered to brother Youcef Nadarkhani.s attorney. He is currently under a sentence of death, but they are delaying the delivery of the verdict in order to put more pressure on him to turn away from Christ. Once the written verdict is delivered, there will be 20 days to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Currently, his attorney is being denied any access to him. However, security officials have informed the courts to temporarily delay his execution until further notice. Youcef is being kept in a security prison in Lakan, Iran, which is just south of Rasht, his hometown. Below is a quote from an Iranian mullah so that you can understand their frame of mind.
The circles for promotion of Christianity, Baha.ism, Wahhabism, Sufism. should be eliminated with the efforts of the Law Enforcement Force as per God.s wish. The most significant psychological disease is created by these meetings and circles. They are corrupt and the biggest disrupters of the country.s security..
Grand Ayatollah Vahid Khorasani37 in a meeting with Qom province.s Law Enforcement Force commander, March 201038
Currently our course of action is to continue in prayer for Youcef to have strength to endure this pressure and suffering, and that he would soon be delivered from the hand of his enemies. Pray for the safety and wisdom of his attorney. Our greatest weapon is prayer!
Secondly, remember that Esther was put in a particular position that she was able to use to deliver her fellow Jews from death.
For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, [then] shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father.s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for [such] a time as this? Esther 4:14
Esther did what she could from the position God put her in. We are members of the body of Christ, and all of us are members of one another and of Jesus Christ. We cannot be silent at this time; first we pray, but second we lift up our voices to speak against this great evil.
It has been confirmed that what we are doing is working and that the pressure that Iran is feeling is the cause for the delay in Youcef.s execution. Our continued course of action should be to alert our government leaders and the international media. Please alert Fox News, CNN, etc. to the situation. If we all begin to alert the media to this cause we may get some coverage of this story.
In Christ, Jason DeMars