(Photo: Courtesy of ACLJ.org)
Human rights groups are urging Christians to continue circulating news about Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is expected to remain in an Iranian prison for up to another year.
“[I]t is imperative that the international community remain engaged. We are confident that prayer is working,” Tiffany Barrans, international legal director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), told The Christian Post.
Nadarkhani, an evangelical Christian, has been jailed since 2009 under apostasy charges and for evangelizing to Muslims.
According to a statement released in mid-December by Present Truth Ministries, Iranian officials have attempted to delay Nadarkhani’s verdict for at least four months, perhaps as long as a year.
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani reportedly requested that presiding judge Ghazi Kashani delay Nadarkhani’s judgment.
Critics argue this is an attempt by the Iranian government to get Nadarkhani’s case out of the international spotlight, as it has received much attention from the international human rights community.
“The ignorance within the Christian community alone is troubling when our brothers and sisters in Christ are languishing in jail, many of whom have been there for years,” Barrans told CP.
“Without awareness, how can one know how to pray? As people pray, we also encourage them to do their part in making others aware,” Barrans added.
Nadarkhani was originally arrested in October 2009 for protesting against Islamic instruction in his children’s schools. His charge was later changed to apostasy and evangelizing Muslims. He was sentenced to execution unless he renounced his Christian faith, which he refused to do.
Nadarkhani’s case received a wide amount of international attention, as human rights organizations argued Iran was clearly in violation of basic human rights, as well as its international contract, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 89 members of U.S. Congress, France, Great Britain, and Mexico all openly condemned Iran for its religious persecution toward Nadarkhani.
Over 200,000 Americans also signed a petition urging Iran to release Nadarkhani.
As the ACLJ told CP, Christians must continue to shed a just light on Nadarkhani’s case, so Iran cannot evade international pressure.
Prison Alert, a ministry of the anti-persecution nonprofit organization Voice of the Martyrs, offers supporters the opportunity to write a letter to Nadarkhani, offering him moral support while he remains in Iranian prison.
Voice of the Martyrs also provides a prayer forum which designates particular dates to be devoted to prayer and fasting for Nadarkhani.
The Facebook Page “Save Youcef Nadarkhani from Execution” also allows visitors to express support and prayers for the imprisoned Christian pastor.
Human rights groups have also encouraged people to email the Iranian embassy, notify their congressmen, and talk about the court case to ensure its continued relevancy.
Nadarkhani is one of many Christians who face religious persecution in Iran. Just recently, Pastors Parviz Khalaj, Mohammed “William” Belyad and Behrouz Sadegh Khandjani, members of the Church of Iran, reported to court to begin serving their sentences for “crimes against national security.”
Similarly, Iranian authorities raided a church celebrating Christmas in December 2011, detaining everyone present at the service, including school children attending Sunday school.
Nadarkhani remains in jail as he awaits his verdict.