Mitt Romney issued a statement yesterday on the death sentence of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran:
Background on Pastor Nadarkhani:
“I strongly condemn the Iranian regime for the conviction and death sentence of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. The freedom of religious belief is the most personal of rights, and Iran’s effort to bring the power of the state to bear upon Pastor Nadarkhani’s Christian faith is not only a violation of Iran’s international obligations, but an unacceptable outrage against human dignity. I call on the Iranian authorities to rescind the conviction and death sentence, release Pastor Nadarkhani, and abandon all measures that deny the Iranian people basic human rights.”
Christian Youcef Nadarkhani, evangelical pastor of about 400 Iranians called the Church of Iran, converted from Islam to Christianity at the age of 19. The small congregation used to meet in a small church in the northern Iranian city of Rasht. In October 2009 he was arrested, imprisoned, and condemned to death for apostasy under Islam’s sharia law. The charges were then changed to rape and extortion. Most recently, he has been accused of being a ‘zionist’.
From Al Bawaba Business:
“Iranian authorities should immediately free pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and drop all charges against him,” Human Rights Watch said last week.
A Supreme Court ruling in June initially overturned a lower court’s sentence of execution against Nadarkhani, but now rights groups are worried that he could still be executed after refusing to give up his Christian beliefs.
“Iran is one of the very few countries in the 21st century where authorities would drag an individual before a court of law and force him to choose between his faith and his life,”said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“Nadarkhani should not have to spend one more day in jail, let alone face execution.”
Security forces initially arrested Nadarkhani, a member of the Church of Iran and pastor to a 400-member congregation in the northern city of Rasht, in October 2009.
In November 2010, a lower court sentenced Nadarkhani to death for “apostasy from Islam,” despite the fact that no such crime exists under Iran’s penal code. On September 22, Branch 11 of the Gilan Court of Appeals affirmed Nadarkhani’s death sentence for apostasy, but in June the Supreme Court remanded the case to the lower court for further investigation, ruling that Nadarkhani could not be executed if he had not been a Muslim after the age of maturity - 15 years for boys according to Iranian law - and he repents.
He is currently waiting for the Gilan appeals court to issue its verdict and sentence, and plans to appeal again any death or imprisonment sentence to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court rejected arguments that apostasy is not a crime under Iran’s laws simply because it is not codified in the Islamic Penal Code, and held that the crime is recognized in Sharia (Islamic law) and by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
From FOX News:
U.S. leaders have denounced Iran’s actions and called for greater respect for religious freedom from the country’s government. Calling religious freedom a “universal human right,” House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) urged the Iranian government to “abandon this dark path” and release Nadarkhani without conditions.
Representative James Lankford (R–OH) likewise stated that Iran’s detainment of Nadarkhani “clearly shows that they devalue basic human liberty and faith in pursuit of unrelenting control of their country.” He continued: “It is a discriminatory belief that has led to the religious persecution of many Iranian citizens who are endowed with the unalienable right that all men and women around the world have to pursue a more fulfilling and joyous life through religious freedom.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed in on the situation, saying the United States is “deeply concerned” about the religious persecution perpetuated by the Iranian regime: “The United States stands with the international community and all Iranians against the Iranian government’s hypocritical statements and actions, and we continue to call for a government that respects the human rights and freedom of all those living in Iran.”
The need is great for the international community to speak out against the serious religious oppression of the Iranian government and particularly the looming death of Nadarkhani. The profound importance of religious liberty to upholding other democratic freedoms, as evidenced in America’s own history, should be integrated into U.S. public diplomacy.
Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, and his son, Jordan Sekulow, ACLJ Executive Director, are actively working for the safe release of Pastor Nadarkhani and have been in constant contact with Nadarkhani’s attorney, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah. Jay appeared on the O’Reilly Factor (Fox News) to discuss the fight to save Nadarkhani’s life (video uploaded on YouTube on Oct 3, 2021):
Jordan Sekulow also appeared on Fox News to discuss the new false charge of ‘zionist’ being leveled against Nadarkhani (uploaded to YouTube Oct 3, 2021):
To listen to a podcast discussion of Jay and Jordan discussing the latest on Nadarkhani click here.
From American Thinker
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
By Eileen F. Toplansky
Oct 3, 2021
It is my moral obligation as a Jew to speak out on behalf of an Iranian Christian whom I have never met.
Imprisoned since October 2009, Yousef Nadarkhani was first accused of apostasy against Islam by the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2010 he was found guilty “and sentenced to death … for abandoning the Islamic faith.” Yet, according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 18 includes a “provision for the right to ‘have or to adopt’ a religion, which has been interpreted authoritatively by the UN Human Rights committee as including the right to change one’s religion.” Thus, Iran is violating its own obligations. Furthermore, the Iranian constitution “sanctions Christianity as a legitimate minority faith.” Clearly, however, this did not matter as the Iranian Supreme Court sought to establish that Nadarkhani was still guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry.
Continue reading here.
Muslim leader: Iran’s death penalty for Christian pastor violates treaties, Koran
By Haris Zafar
October 2, 2021
The Quran is replete with this instruction that everyone has the fundamental freedom of religion. In Chapter 18, it says “This is the truth from your Lord; then let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve.” Why is this so difficult for these so-called Islamic “scholars” to understand? They spit in the face of the religion they claim to defend by not only violating these teachings but then falsely attributing their vile sense of justice to the tolerant faith of Islam. The allegation that Islam advocates the use of force to spread or maintain itself does not originate from a study of the sources of Islamic teachings. Rather, it originates from a study of the conduct of some so-called “Muslim” states.
Read the entire article here.
Let’s hope and pray that Pastor Nadarkhani will be safely released to return to his family and congregation.
To contact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to let her know of your support for Nadarkhani, click here.
► Jayde Wyatt