CNN is reporting that Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor, refuses to reject his Christian faith and as a result, he is facing execution. Below are excerpts from the news report:
Washington (CNN) — Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the head of a network of Christian house churches in Iran, could be executed as soon as midnight Wednesday in Tehran for refusing to recant his religious beliefs and convert to Islam, said the chair of a commission that monitors religious freedom around the world.
A statement by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent advisory group appointed by the president and Congress, “expressed deep concern” for the man’s fate.
After four days of an appeals trial for apostasy, Nadarkhani refused to recant his beliefs.
Leonard Leo, chair of the commission, said the pastor “is being asked to recant a faith he has always had. Once again, the Iranian regime has demonstrated that it practices hypocritical barbarian practices.”
Nadarkhani was first sentenced to execution in November 2010, the commission said, and in order to avoid the death penalty, he is being asked to recant his beliefs and convert to Islam. Leo said an apostasy trial is rare in Iran; the last occurred in 1990.
Iran’s claim stems from the pastor’s Muslim parents. According to Leo, the court needed to verify if Nadarkhani had ever been a Muslim. In order to be given what Iran looks at as the opportunity to recant his beliefs, Nadarkhani must have never been a Muslim before the age of 15, Leo said.
Because for the last four days in court he was given the opportunity, it is apparent that the Iranian court found he was never a Muslim and therefore Nadarkhani could have converted.
“American Christian, like never before, are engaged in this,” Sekulow said. “This is evidence that Christians in America over the past decade have done a better job engaging in the persecution issue.”
Christians all around the world are facing persecution because of their faith. As Christians, we must show our concern for our brothers and sisters who suffer because of their faith.
Let the Christian community pray for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.