An earthquake rocked northeastern Iran Thursday, injuring 100 people and setting off a wave of aftershocks throughout the region.
The magnitude-5.5 earthquake hit at 4:05 p.m. local time and caused damage to Neyshabour, a city around 550 miles north of the Iranian capital of Tehran.
Homes and buildings in Neyshabour faced minor damages, such as shattered windows, while homes in nearby rural regions faced more significant damages, such as downed walls. more >>
In another violation of religious freedom, Iran has once again asked imprisoned Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani to renounce his faith in Christ and accept the prophet Muhammad as his savior, all with the promise of securing his release. Nadarkhani has refused.
International Christian news agency BosNewsLife claims to have received information from persecution watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide Friday, confirming that Nadarkhani had refused an offer to be released from prison in exchange for his public acknowledgement of the prophet Muhammad as “a messenger sent by God,” as believed by adherents of Islam.
“The latest attempt to pressure Pastor Youcef to acknowledge Muhammad as a messenger of God violates both the Iranian Constitution and various principles of international law, to which Iran is obliged to uphold,” Tiffany Barrans, international legal director at American Center for Law and Justice, told The Christian Post. more >>
An Iranian court has sentenced American citizen Amir Mirza Hekmati to death for spying, Iranian news media reported on Monday.
Hekmati, 28, was captured in Iran when he was on a visit to the country to see his grandmothers, according to his family.
Iran did not report when the verdict was issued and have not said when exactly Hekmati was arrested, although it is believed that he was detained this past summer in late August or early September. more >>
The Europe Union reiterated its plea to Iran Friday, urging the country to release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who both face execution at the hands of Iran’s judiciary system.
“Thousands of individuals remain at risk of execution, including Ms. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. The EU reiterates its call on Iran not to execute them,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a written statement Friday.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested in Oct. 2009 for protesting against the teaching of Islam in his children’s schools. His charge was then changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims, and he was sentenced to execution unless he renounced his faith. Nadarkhani stuck strong to his beliefs, and his case now sits in the hands of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for final review. more >>
A group of Christian children whose Sunday school was raided by Iranian authorities last Christmas have been subject to potential mental strain after the event and need international support, says the Hamgam Council of Iranian Churches.
The organization is encouraging churches in Iran and abroad to send cards of encouragement to the children, reported Mohabat News, an Iranian Christian News Agency.
Many of the children are reportedly experiencing a series of mental problems resulting from the brutal raid, which the Iranian authorities launched on their Assemblies of God-affiliated church on Dec. 23, 2011, during the church’s Christmas celebration event. The authorities reportedly detained everyone in the building, including children, who were attending Sunday school there. more >>
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. more >>