Iranian Government Delays Pastor's Death Sentence for Apostasy One Year Hoping Media Will Forget
You may have heard of the court case of Youcef Nadarkhani in recent months. If not, he is an Iranian Christian pastor sentenced to death for preaching Christianity and refusing to recant his faith and convert to Islam. His case gained international attention from the reporting of several human rights organizations, Christian organizations and Irani watch groups. Pressure has been put upon many influential political leaders to demand the release of the man on the ludicrous charges, but as of now the charges have only been condemned. Due to attention though, the Iranian government has stayed the sentence of execution.
The question remaining is what to become of the pastor? Why was his execution stayed if the Iranian government is holding up the charges and the sentence? The only reason the government could be delaying the execution while still upholding it is due to the fact that they want the media attention to die down. Therefore, when the pastor faces his death for apostasy, the world will have forgotten about him, and there will be no outrage. The government has announced a one year delay on the execution. According to a report from persecution.com, the presiding judge was given orders from the Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, to use any means necessary to coerce the Nadarkhani to disavow his Christian faith and convert to Islam during this stay in prison.
The pastor was charged with the crime of apostasy in October 2009, when he wouldn't permit his two young sons to study the Quran in school, citing his freedom to do so under Article 13 or the Iranian Constitution:"Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians are the only recognized religious minorities, who, within the limits of the law, are free to perform their religious rites and ceremonies, and to act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education." After this, he was arrested by secret police and thrown in prison for attempting to preach to Muslims. Nadarkahni was tried almost a year later in September of 2010 and received a death sentence for the charge of apostasy in November 2010. His case was brought before Iran's Supreme Court for reconsideration in 2011 and the decision was upheld in July 2011. He now awaits his death sentence. Throughout his time in prison, there have been many attempts by the Iranian government to convert him to Islam including using methods of threats and medication. Due to his refusal to convert, his wife was then arrested, tried without an attorney and sentenced to life in prison. She has since appealed and been released. Youcef still remains though, and endures conversion attempts and now waits another year for his death sentence to be carried out.Continued on the next page