(Photo: Courtesy of ACLJ.org)
Iranian Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has become the face of religious persecution throughout the world after being arrested for his beliefs in Oct. 2009, has issued a letter to persecution aid group Present Truth Ministries (PTM).
In the letter, Nadarkhani speaks of his current condition, his dedication and sincerity to God, his thoughts about his persecution, and shares his reaction to Florida Pastor Terry Jones's burning of Qurans in protest of his imprisonment.
Nadarkhani, 34, was arrested in Oct. 2009 for protesting the mandatory teaching of Islam at his children's schools. His charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims.
His fate has worsened recently, as the American Center for Law and Justice received notification in Feb. 2012 that Nadarkhani had received an execution order from Iran's high court.
Most recently, Nadarkhani's attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, received notification from a judge that he must serve a nine-year sentence for "acting against the national security, spreading propaganda against the regime and keeping banned books at home."
Dadkhah is one of the few lawyers willing to represent Nadarkhani, due to the sensitivity of his case, and therefore his arrest would cause Nadarkhani's situation to grow dire quickly as he would have no legal representation.
Nadarkhani's case has gained international attention as it shows Iran's blatant violation of human rights, predominately religious freedom, according to observers.
Although several prominent countries have issued statements condemning Iran's actions, others have chosen to handle Nadarkhani's situation in an arguably detrimental way.
Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., has repeatedly threatened to burn the Quran, Islam's holy book, in protest for Nadadrkhani's imprisonment.
In the past, Jones' burnings have sparked massive riots in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, although his most recent protest-burning appeared to go mostly unnoticed.
In his letter, Nadarkhani addresses Jones' book-burning, and assures his followers that although he continues to await his freedom, he maintains eternal faith in the will of God.
Nadarkhani's sons, Daniel and Yoel, await their father's release along with his wife, Fatema Pasindedih.
Below is Nadarkhani's letter to Present Truth Ministries:
Greetings from your servant and younger brother in Christ, Youcef Nadarkhani.
To: All those who are concerned and worried about my current situation.
First, I would like to inform all of my beloved brothers and sisters that I am in perfect health in the flesh and spirit. And I try to have a little different approach from others to these days, and consider it as the day of exam and trial of my faith. And during these days which are hard in order to prove your loyalty and sincerity to God, I am trying to do the best in my power to stay right with what I have learned from God's commandments.
I need to remind my beloveds, though my trial due has been so long, and as in the flesh I wish these days to end, yet I have surrendered myself to God's will.
I am neither a political person nor do I know about political complicity, but I know that while there are many things in common between different cultures, there are also differences between these cultures around the world which can result in criticism, which most of the times response to this criticisms will be harsh and as a result will lengthen our problems.
From time to time I am informed about the news which is spreading in the media about my current situation, for instance being supported by various churches and famous politicians who have asked for my release, or campaigns and human rights activities which are going on against the charges which are applied to me. I do believe that these kind of activities can be very helpful in order to reach freedom, and respecting human rights in a right way can bring forth positive results.
I want to appreciate all those are trying to reach this goal. But at the other hand, I'd like to announce my disagreement with the insulting activities which cause stress and trouble, which unfortunately are done with the justification (excuse) of defending human rights and freedom, for the results are so clear and obvious for me.
I try to be humble and obedient to those who are in power, obedience to those in authority which God has granted to the officials of my country, and pray for them to rule the country according to the will of God and be successful in doing this. For I know in this way I have obeyed God's word. I try to obey along with those whom I see in a common situation with me. They never had any complaint, but just let the power of God be manifested in their lives, and though sometimes we read that they have used this right to defend themselves, for they had this right, I am not an exception as well and have used all possibilities and so forth and am waiting for the final result.
So I ask all the beloved ones to pray for me as the holy word has said. At the end I hope my freedom will be prepared as soon as possible, as the authorities of my country will do with free will according to their law and commandments which are answerable to.
May God's Grace and Mercy be upon you now and forever. Amen.