Sunday, May 27, 2012

Christian Pastor Persecuted in Iran

The Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is being persecuted by an Iranian theocracy that shows no respect for religious freedom.  

In December 2006 Youcef Nadarkhani was imprisoned in Iran based on the charges of apostasy (converting from Islam to Christianity) and evangelism (converting others to Christianity). He was released after two weeks of detention.

Pastor Youcef is the father of two sons. He went to their school to protest its mandatory teaching of Islam to his children. As a result Youcef was arrested on October 13, 2009 and charged with protesting. The charges were later changed to apostasy and evangelism, the same charges he faced in 2006.

On June 18, 2010, Youcef’s wife was arrested and charged with apostacy. She was released 4 months later.

In September 2010 Pastor Youcef was convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death. In June 2011 the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the death sentence. The Iranian Supreme Court also said that Youcef’s conviction could be overturned if he recanted his Christian faith.

In October 2011 Iranian state media claimed that Youcef was sentenced to death for rape and extortion, crimes that bore no resemblance to the conviction of apostasy he had been fighting in court for over a year. Youcef Nadarkhani remains in prison to this day. He has been behind bars for 31 months.

Pastor Youcef is being persecuted for believing and preaching his Christian faith. He should be released immediately and deserves a full pardon for a crime he never should have been charged with in the first place. 

UPDATE (9/10/12): On September 8 Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was freed from prison. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and Jay Sekulow worked tirelessly for his freedom. Their sources say that Pastor Youcef was acquitted of the charge of apostasy but convicted on the charge of evangelism and sentenced to time served. Pastor Youcef spent almost 3 years in prison. 

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