(Photo: American Center for Law and Justice)
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reported Monday that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, although imprisoned in Iran, was able to see his son on the young boy's birthday.
Nadarkhani's son was able to visit his father in prison on April 2. This comes as a special treat for Nadarkhani as well, who will celebrate his 35th birthday after being imprisoned for for two and a half years.
"Not only does this mean that Pastor Youcef is still alive, but it is a precious reminder of what we are fighting for – freedom for a loving father, a devoted husband, a caring pastor, and a devout follower of Christ," commented the ACLJ in a press release.
Nadarkhani was arrested by Iranian authorities in Oct. 2009 for protesting the government's mandatory teaching of Islam in his children's schools. His charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims, and he has remained imprisoned while Iranian courts debate on his final punishment.
The international community has been intently following Nadarkhani's case, especially after the courts declared that Nadarkhani would be executed for his apostasy charge. The Iranian government has since backtracked on this ruling, arguing that Nadarkhani will not be executed.
Rumors became especially heated after Feb. 21, when the ACLJ announced that an execution order had in fact been issued. Fake pictures depicting Nadarkhani being hanged circulated on the Internet. Although these pictures are not real, the ACLJ does still believe that an execution order exists, but has yet to be carried out.
So far, the White House, U.S. Department of State, Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, United States, Europe Union, France, and Great Britain have all openly demanded Nadarkhani's release.
Nadarkhani's two sons, Daniel, age nine, and Yoel, age seven, await their father's release along with the Iranian pastor's wife, Fatema Pasindedih.