Iranian Christian Pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani is reported to be deteriorating in health, and experiencing extreme living conditions, for his refusal to recant his Christian faith, a member of the Church of Iran who requested anonymity has said.
As reported by Compass Direct News, the source indicated that there is limited communication with the pastor and that Nadarkhani is experiencing physical and psychological torture.
The source described Nadarkhani as being placed in solitary confinement and not being able to speak to anyone for long periods, as well as being constantly threatened with death.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is waiting for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatolla Ali Khameni to hand down a ruling concerning his case, which should come before the second week of December. Nadarkhani could face execution for failure to recant his religion.
Nadarkhani was originally arrested in his home city of Rasht in Oct. 2009, while attempting to register his church. His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran.
He was reportedly initially charged with protesting. However, the charges against him were later changed to apostasy or abandoning Islam, and again later controversially changed to rape and sexual-related charges.
One of the main contending issues in his case is the question of whether Nadarkhani actually converted from Islam to Christianity; something Iranian authorities will not allow.
The accusations are that Nadarkhani, born of Muslim parents, had accepted Islam and obeyed its commandments from the age of puberty, and, at the age of 19 converted from Islam to Christianity, according to excerpts of court documents published by the New Statesman.
Nadarkhani disagreed with that assertion, stating that he had not held any particular religion after passing the age of puberty until the age 19, and that he, in fact, accepted Christianity simply by believing that it is the only truth.
He was asked by the court why he initially stated during interrogation that he was indeed a Muslim at the age of puberty, until he officially converted to Christianity at the age of 19.
Nardarkhani responded that his statement was made because the interrogator lied to him. Officials had told him that if an individual was born of Muslim parents and had not chosen a religion by the age of puberty they would be officially recorded as Muslim. As that description fitted his situation he simply then agreed that legally he must labeled muslim. However, it was later made clear to him that he would not officially be a muslim in that situation.
Thefore his defense pointed out in essence that their client had not accepted the proposition of accepting Islam from the beginning of puberty; therefore he would not be rendered an apostate by his converting from it.