(Photo: Courtesy of ACLJ.org)
United States Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), with the support of seven members of Congress, introduced a resolution into the U.S. House of Representatives Friday that condemns Iran for continuing to imprison pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and calls for his immediate release.
The resolution, called H. Res. 556, is "Condemning the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy."
The three-page document cites that Iran is in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also argues that Iran is in violation of its country's constitution, which allows for freedom to express one's religion.
"This recent action taken by members of the U.S. Congress signifies an important step forward in raising this issue to a new level -- keeping pressure on Iran and keeping Pastor Nadarkhani in the news," Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, said in a statement Friday.
"We are very grateful for the support of those Members of Congress who are standing for religious liberty and freedom and demanding that Iran release Pastor Nadarkhani immediately," he added.
Many argue that continued international attention has helped keep Nadarkhani's case in the spotlight, and therefore helped keep the pastor alive. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 89 members of Congress, the Europe Union, France, Great Britain, Mexico, and Germany have all publicly requested that Nadarkhani be released.
The American Center for Law and Justice continues to fight for Nadarkhani. In late January, the ACLJ started the "Tweet for Youcef" campaign. A special application allows the ACLJ to send daily Nadarkhani updates using the subscriber's Twitter account.
So far, 1,500 people have already subscribed to the "Tweet for Youcef" campaign, which reaches 305,415 Twitter accounts in over 180 countries.
Nadarkhani was arrested in Oct. 2009 for protesting the teaching of Islam at his children's school. His charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims. After much international pressure, the Iranian court passed the case on to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme authority, for review, where it now awaits a verdict.
Although he faces potential execution for apostasy, Nadarkhani has repeatedly refused to recant his Christian faith. As Jordan Sekulow of the ACLJ confirms, Nadarkhani is alive as he awaits his verdict in prison.
Nadarkhani's wife, Fatema Pasindedih, and their two sons Daniel, 9, and Yoel, 7, await his release.