A Christian pastor in Iran is facing the death penalty for apostasy
after refusing to renounce his Christian faith.
This case has attracted the attention of Senator Eric Abetz
, who has condemned the threat of the death penalty being applied to a person simply on account of his religious beliefs. He says this situation “is something I’m sure all Australians abhor”.
Arrested in 2009, Yousef Nadarkhani was condemned to death in late 2010. He has appealed his case and three times has been given the opportunity to renounce Jesus Christ and acknowledge Muhammad. Nadarkhani, who came to Christ at the age of 19 and now pastors a group of home churches, has refused.
However, according to Nadarkhani’s defence lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, execution due to apostasy is not written law in Iranian law
. Nadarkhani is now being accused of other “crimes against national security
”, as well as rape
, which is punishable by execution.
The new charges are seen by groups such as the American Center for Law and Justice as an attempt to cover up the true reason for his imprisonment – his conversion to Christianity. The delay in his case is also seen as an attempt by Iran to keep the case out of the international spotlight.
Dadkhah, the ACLJ, and other organisations are calling for people around the world to contact the Iranian Ambassadors in their countries and pressure them to urge the Iranian government not to allow the execution to take place.
Despite the amount of interest this case has generated in the Christian media, it has not been given much attention by the mainstream media or by politicians in Australia. In contrast, when Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr
was sentenced to 90 lashes and a year in prison for appearing in a film critical of the Iranian regime, her case was publicly condemned
by Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd. While both cases should be condemned by the Australian government and the media, it is disappointing that Nadarkhani's death sentence has been largely ignored.
You can help by contacting the Iranian Ambassador to Australia
. Alternatively you can email the Iranian Ambassador through the Christian Solidarity Worldwide website
Find out more about Pastor Yousef’s case here.
Reverend Phillip Jensen, Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney and brother of Bishop Peter, has also written about this case here