Monday, August 8, 2011

Death sentence still hanging on Iranian Pastor charged with apostasy

Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that Yosef Nadarkhani, a 32 year-old Iranian evangelical pastor, must renounce his Christian faith or be put to death. It’s the latest incident in the Islamist Republic’s continuous and increased assault on its small Christian population. An unofficial translation of the Iranian Supreme Court’s decision to execute Pastor Youcef Nadakhani has been provided by Present Truth Ministries and is published here

The background to the case reads, in parts: “Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32 years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad, at the age of 19.

“He has often participated in Christian worship and organized home church services, evangelizing and has been baptized and baptized others, converting Muslims to Christianity. He has been accused of breaking Islamic Law that from puberty (15 years according to Islamic law) until the age of 19 the year 1996, he was raised a Muslim in a Muslim home. During court trials, he denied the prophecy of Mohammad and the authority of Islam. He has stated that he is a Christian and no longer Muslim.

“During many sessions in court with the presence of his attorney and a judge, he has been sentenced to execution by hanging according to article 8 of Tahrir -olvasileh (one of Khomeni’s books about Sharia Law and Khamenie’s and Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi’s fatwa) His sentence was appealed by his attorney and sent to the supreme court.

The Supreme Courts Response of June 12, 2011 now states: “We know that Mr. Nadarkhani has confessed that in his heart and in his actions he has denied being Muslim and converted to Christianity and has advertised and encouraged other Muslims to convert to Christianity. And because of advertising and pastoring a church repeatedly professed his Christian faith and denied the prophet Mohammad and the 12th Imam and denied the entire Koran and truth of the Koran.

The ruling, signed by Morteza Fazeli and Azizollah Razaghi, was that: “this case … must be returned [to] the state court of Gilan Section 11, and further investigated to prove that from puberty (15 years) to 19 he [Nadarkhani] was not Muslim by his acquaintances, relatives, local elders, and Muslims he frequented. He must repent his Christian faith if this is the case. ….., if it can be proved that he was a practicing Muslim as an adult and has not repented, the execution will be carried out.”

Clearly, the state of Iran is stalling on the case, reluctant to kill Pastor Nadarkhani on account of the enormous publicity the case has already generated worldwide; but nevertheless trying to break his resolve by legal rigmarole and various deprivations and harassment. The last known Christian to be officially hanged for his faith in Iran was Assemblies of God Pastor Hossein Soodmand, in 1990.

No comments: