By Rob Schwarzwalder
Used by permission.
According to the respected anti-persecution ministry Christian Solidarity
Worldwide (CSW), an Iranian Christian pastor has been sentenced to death in
Iran for, to put it simply, being a Christian.
CSW says that the death sentence handed down in 2010 for the crime of apostasy, to
evangelical house pastor Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, has reportedly been
upheld by the third chamber of the Supreme Court in the Shia holy city of
Qom. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani of the Church of Iran denomination was
arrested in his home city of Rasht on 13 October 2009 while attempting to
register his church. His arrest is believed to have been due to his
questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children
According to the Voice of the Martyrs, with Pastor Nadarkhanis’s sentence now upheld and confirmed,
it is possible that the authorities will ask him to recant his faith and
execute him without advance notice if he refuses, a typical pattern of
action taken by authorities in such cases.
This death sentence has been issued despite Iran being a signatory of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, whose Article 18
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion
or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community
with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in
worship, observance, practice and teaching.
Sadly, persecution of Christians in Iran is extensive:
A major spike in the harassment and arrest of Iranian Christians in recent
months is revealing just how nervous the Islamic republic is about the
prodigious success of house churches, say Iranian Christian leaders. At
least 202 Christians in 24 cities faced arbitrary arrest between June
2010 and January 2011, according to Elam Ministries. Elam, run by Iranian
expatriates, counted 80 arrests over 2008 and 2009 combined.
You can express your concern for Pastor Nadarkhani and ask for his release
by calling the Iranian Interest Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in
Washington, DC at (202) 965-4990. You can also contact the Permanent
Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the United Nations: Email
[LINK: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] email@example.com; Phone (212) 687-2020.
Robert Schwarzwalder, senior vice president of the Family Research Council, has served as chief of staff to two Members of Congress and formerly was Acting Communications Director at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.