Over the years, I’ve highlighted the plight of Muslim apostates around the world.
One of the early blog campaigns I was involved in focused on Abdul Rahman, the Christian convert who fled Afghanistan in 2006 and found safety in Italy after Muslim mobs demanded he be killed for abandoning Islam.
To oppose the Koranic mandate of death for apostasy is to take on the entire sharia-enforcing Muslim world.
Which is why you never hear purported anti-death penalty bleeding-heart celebrities say a peep about it.
It takes no guts or brains for Hollywood liberals (hello, Alec Baldwin) and America-bashing Brit journalists (hello, U.K. Guardian editors) to bemoan the execution of a convicted Death Row cop-killer who was able to pursue every last legal avenue for more than two decades.
It tells you everything about their selective outrage that they have nothing to say about the latest impending execution in Iran of a Christian pastor:
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.”
Leo said that while the trial is closed to the press, the commission collects information from sources in Iran and around the world. A release by the group says their responsibility is to “review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally.”
“I would be disappointed if at the end of this whole maelstrom, there was no statement by our government on this situation,” Leo said. “At some point the United States has to stand up for the right of this pastor and for human rights more broadly and call countries to account for what they are doing.”
The commission’s statement also called the trial a sham and said Iran is violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.
Take action here.
ACLJ has been helping with Pastor Nadarkhani’s defense. Support them here.
Alec Baldwin’s first reaction when I sent out a reader’s tweet wondering why he didn’t seem to care about the case. He mocked:
It’s progress. Anything to spread word of the story helps.
In 2010, the Iranian regime carried out 546 executions, more than at any other time during the preceding decade, and representing an increase of around 25 per cent on the previous year. Increasingly, execution is becoming Tehran’s favored method for dealing with anyone it deems an opponent — like Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor who has refused to recant his Christian faith.
Pastor Nadarkhani’s case is another grim illustration of the volatile situation faced by religious minorities living under Iran’s Islamist clerics. Even though the state formally recognizes the existence of Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, these minorities are under no illusions about their subordinate status.
Since 2009, when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole Iran’s election to claim a further term as the country’s president, the crime of “moharebeh” — waging war against God — has frequently been invoked against those who question the Islamic legal codes which underpin the state.
Yousef Nadarkhani sentenced to die for changing his religion.
Yesterday it was reported that Yousef Nadarkhani faced the death penalty in Iran unless, on the fourth and final opportunity, he recanted his Christianity.
This seemed too incredible to be true. However, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) speedily provided original judgments and unofficial English translations. And, on the basis of the translations, it was clear: a man was actually sentenced to hang just for converting from one religion to another.
CSW now report that Nadarkhani refused to recant on the fourth and final opportunity. If CSW and the source they are relying on are correct, this means that Nadarkhani can now be hanged unless the Court decides otherwise.
*In Algeria, distributing CDs about Christianity will get you five years in jail.
Evangelical conservatives are fighting for freedom and basic human rights around the world. Our main adversaries are often theocratic governments.
Christians, like Youcef Nadarkhani, a pastor in Iran sentenced to death by the Islamic Republic for his faith, are on the front line of the global fight for religious freedom. On September 25, a court in Iran is set to decide whether he is a convert from Islam to Christianity. If the court finds that Youcef is an apostate, he can be executed.
Pastor Nadarkhani’s Iranian lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a Muslim, has been sentenced to 9 years in prison and banned from practicing law by the Iranian government, essentially for representing individuals such as Pastor Nadarkhani.
The ACLJ is working with Mr. Dadkhah, a well-known human rights attorney who founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center along with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.
A conservative Christian legal organization and a Muslim human rights attorney are battling theocracy together. This isn’t new for the ACLJ. In Pakistan, our office works with brave attorneys, some of whom are Muslim, willing to defend persecuted Christians.
This morning, I asked Press Secretary Jay Carney if the White House would weigh in.
At 2pm Eastern, this statement was released from the press secretary’s office:
The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran’s own international obligations. A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities’ utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran’s continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.
Good for the White House. May every other civilized country’s officials raise their voices and do the same.
More on White House reax.
Still no statement from State Department, which pleaded to save the life of a convicted Mexican child rapist. But they did tweet about World Heart Day today…
“I deplore reports that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian church leader, could be executed imminently after refusing an order by the Supreme Court of Iran to recant his faith,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
“This demonstrates the Iranian regime’s continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom,” the statement said. “I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani who has no case to answer and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence.”
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday joined calls for Iran to free a pastor facing the death sentence for refusing to renounce his Christian faith, AFP reported.
“I urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect its international human rights commitments, including on freedom of religion or belief, and strongly appeal to Iran not to sentence Pastor Nadarkhani to death,” Ashton said in a statement.
“I call for Mr Nadarkhani’s immediate and unconditional release.”