Middle East

Iranian Pastor Could Face Death

The former pastor of a network of Christian house churches in Iran has been told to exchange his faith for his life.

Iranian Pastor Could Face Death
Iranian Pastor Could Face Death

Multimedia

Audio
  • /dalet/Editorial_VO_300_016553_071711_Iranian_Pastor_Could_Face_Death.Mp3

The former pastor of a network of Christian house churches in Iran has been told to exchange his faith for his life, according to news reports and human rights groups.

"We are dismayed over reports that the Iranian courts are requiring Youcef Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith or face the death penalty for apostasy," wrote U.S. Department of State Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in a recent press statement.   

Mr. Nadarkhani was arrested in his home city of Rasht on October 13, 2009 while attempting to register his church after protesting compulsory Islamic religious instruction in Iranian public schools. Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights group, reports that he was originally charged with protesting, however, the charges against the 32-year-old convert to Christianity were later changed to apostasy and evangelizing Muslims.

The pastor was verbally sentenced to death in September 2010. On November 13, 2010, he received the same sentence in writing. Noted human rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah appealed the decision to Iran's Supreme Court. Mr. Dadkhah told AFP news agency July 3rd that the Supreme Court had "annulled" the death sentence and sent the case back to a lower court in Nadarkhani's hometown to determine if Nadarkhani had been Muslim prior to his conversion to Christianity, but had also asked Nadarkhani to repent. That same day, however, 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".

The death sentence for the charge of apostasy is not codified in Iranian law. If carried out, it would be the first execution for apostasy in Iran since 1990.

"He is just one of thousands who face persecution for their religious beliefs in Iran, including the seven leaders of the Baha’i community whose imprisonment was increased to 20 years for practicing their faith and hundreds of Sufis who have been flogged in public because of their beliefs," wrote Ms. Nuland.

"We join the international community in continuing to call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental rights of all its citizens and uphold its international commitments to protect them."

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Reflecting the Views of the U.S. Government as Broadcast on The Voice of America

View from Washington

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
View From Washington: Another Civil Society Activist Sentenced in Irani
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
06/19/2015
Artist Atena Faraghdani has been sentenced to twelve and a half years in prison on security related charges for drawings and other content critical of the government which she posted on Facebook.
Video

Video View From Washington: Another Civil Society Activist Sentenced in Iran

Artist Atena Faraghdani has been sentenced to twelve and a half years in prison on security related charges for drawings and other content critical of the government which she posted on Facebook.
Video

Video View From Washington: Nuclear Negotiations Approach Deadline

Although there are some important issues that still need to be worked through by the parties, President Barack Obama reiterated his commitment to diplomacy with Iran.
Video

Video View From Washington: A Terrible Toll in Syria

“One of the terrible results of the conflict in Syria is the enormous toll taken on journalists who have attempted to tell the world the truth about what is happening there.”
Video

Video View From Washington: A Successful Summit

President Barack Obama recently hosted a summit at Camp David for leaders from the Gulf Cooperation Council member states. He reaffirmed the U.S.’s “iron-clad commitment to the security of our Gulf partners.”
Video

Video View From Washington: Concerns Involving Iran

President Obama said that if the nuclear issue with Iran could be successfully addressed, it could lead to more opportunities for the Iranian people and also show that “constructive engagement – not confrontation – with the international community is the better path.”