An Iranian pastor who has refused to recant his Christian faith now faces execution as early as Wednesday after his sentence was upheld by an Iranian court.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old man who maintains he has never been a Muslim as an adult, has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ, the 11th branch of Iran's Gilan Provincial Court determined. Iran's supreme court has previously ruled that the trial court determine if Nadarkhani had been a Muslim prior to converting to Christianity.
The judges, according to the American Center for Law & Justice, demanded that Nadarkhani recant his Christian faith before submission of evidence. Despite the fact that the judgment is against current Iranian and international laws, and is not codified in Iranian penal code, the judge stated that they have to uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.
When asked to repent, Nadarkhani stated: "Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?"
"To the religion of your ancestors, Islam," the judge replied, according to the American Center for Law & Justice.
"I cannot," Nadarkhani said.
Nadarkhani is the latest Christian cleric to be imprisoned in Iran for his religious beliefs. According to Elam Ministries, a United Kingdom-based organization that serves Christian churches in Iran, there was a significant increase in the number of Christians arrested solely for practicing their faith between June 2010 and January. A total of 202 arrests occurred during that six-month period, including 33 people who remained in prison as of January.
Earlier in 2010, an Assyrian evangelical pastor, Rev. Wilson Issavi, had been imprisoned for 54 days for allegedly converting Muslims prior to being released in March 2010, Elam officials told FoxNews.com.
Nadarkhani, a pastor in the 400-member Church of Iran, had been held in Iran's Gilan Province since October 2009 after a protest he made to local education authorities after he discovered that his child was forced to read from the Koran at school. His wife, Fatemeh Pasandideh, was also arrested in June 2010 in an apparent attempt to pressure him to renounce his faith. She was later released in October 2010, according to Amnesty International.
Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy in September 2010 on the basis of religious writings by Iranian clerics, including Ayatollah Khomeini -- the founder of the Islamic Republican of Iran -- despite the fact that there is no offense of "apostasy" in the nation's penal code, Amnesty International reports.
In June, the Supreme Court of Iran ruled that a lower court should re-examine procedural flaws in the case, giving local judges the power to decide whether to release, execute or retry Nadarkhani. The verdict, according to Amnesty International, includes a provision for the sentence to be overturned should Nadarkhani renounce his Christian faith.
Kiri Kankhwende, a spokeswoman for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights organization that specializes in religious freedom, told FoxNews.com that Nadarkhani was asked for the fourth time to renounce his faith during a hearing early Wednesday and he denied that request.
"We're waiting to hear the final outcome," she told FoxNews.com. "We're still waiting to hear what they've decided."
Kankhwende said Nadarkhani could be executed Wednesday or Thursday.
"Iran is unpredictable," she said. "We can't say when it might happen. It's a very real threat, but we can't say when exactly."
Calls seeking comment to the U.S. State Department and the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations were not immediately returned on Wednesday. Messages to Nadarkhani's attorney, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, were not immediately returned.
Father Jonathan Morris, a Roman Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of New York and an analyst for Fox News Channel, said Nadarkhani's case is "unmistakable evidence" that Iran is executing Christians simply because they refuse to become Muslims.
Morris continued: "Will President Obama, and the free world, allow the United Nations to continue in its cowardly silence on this matter?"[/QUOTE]
In the other Death Penalty thread, we had a few folks comparing the U.S. and Iran as similar in re: the Death Penalty, so I think this is a good opportunity to draw some of those similarities out and discuss them further.
[QUOTE=pauliec;4164227]I don't remember anyone saying the Iran and US justice systems were similar.
That being said, this is the law and order in Iran; an accepted aspect of their modern society. So you must not object to this, right?[/QUOTE]
Of course I object, but explaining it to you would take too long, serve no purpose (you've already made up your mind) and you'd only cherrypick read/respond to one or two sentences of any replies I might write anyway.
By the way, if you're looking for the guy who thinks Iran is the bees knees of modern society, that would be Bitonti. He is ---->
[QUOTE=Warfish;4164253]Of course I object, but [B]explaining it to you would take too long, serve no purpose[/B] (you've already made up your mind) and you'd only cherrypick read/respond to one or two sentences of any replies I might write anyway.
By the way, if you're looking for the guy who thinks Iran is the bees knees of modern society, that would be Bitonti. He is ---->[/QUOTE]
Just curious then - why did you start this thread?