U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on Iran to release a Christian pastor facing death due to his faith in Jesus. Clinton’s comments have finally come following nearly 200,000 Americans signing a petition for the U.S. government to intervene and help gain freedom for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.
In calling for Nadarkhani’s unconditional release, Clinton said Saturday, “Today, we call on every government to release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally, including Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.”
The comments come 63 years after world leaders first gathered at the United Nations General Assembly in solidarity for the protection of human rights worldwide. It was therefore a fitting moment for Clinton to join a growing chorus of international condemnation against Iran for Nadarkhani’s incarceration. more >>
Three pastors have been called Monday to report to prison in Shiraz, a city in southwestern Iran, within the next 30 days in what is estimated to be an act of religious persecution, according to Present Truth Ministries, a Minnesota-based Christian advocacy group that monitors church communities abroad.
Parviz Khalaj, Mohammed "William" Belyad and Behrouz Sadegh Khandjani are three pastors of a non-denominational house church, the Network for Church of Iran. They were charged with "crimes against national security" and sentenced in Spring 2011, Jason DeMars, founder of Present Truth Ministries, who spoke with members of the Iranian church, told The Christian Post Wednesday. Khalaj has two convictions and is to serve two years, DeMars reports. Belyad was previously convicted and sentenced to 5 years in prison. He will serve a total of 6 years. Khandjani is expected to serve one year in prison.
All three pastors have families, the advocacy group reports. Khalaj has a 10-year-old son, Belyad has a one-month-old son and Khandjani has a 7-year-old daughter. more >>
After a chaotic 24 hours, Iran has expelled the British ambassador, and Britain has requested that all Iranian diplomats leave London within 48 hours. Likewise, Britain has recalled its ambassadors and staff from Tehran.
Earlier this month, Britain imposed nuclear and economic sanctions against Iran. In response, Iranians attacked the British embassy, causing damage to the building and placing the ambassadors and staff in danger.
Britain’s sanctions included the prohibition of financial institutions from doing any business with Iran. They were imposed as a result of Iran’s growing nuclear program. more >>
Is war in the Middle East imminent?
The International Atomic Energy Agency recently reported that the Islamic Republic of Iran will soon have the capacity to build nuclear warheads. Iran may already possess enough nuclear material for four bombs. It has also conducted computer modeling of nuclear explosions and developed triggering devices. It possesses missiles that can reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf. In a matter of months it could arm those missiles with nuclear warheads.
What if sanctions don't stop Iran's nuclear development program? A nuclear arms race in the Middle East would likely result, as Turkey, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia seek their own weapons. A nuclear Iran would shift the balance of power in the Muslim world, perhaps leading to a Soviet Union-like confederation of satellites under the Iranian umbrella. And Iran could launch a conventional war against Israel, confident that their nuclear weapons would deter the Jewish state from using their nuclear stockpile in defense. more >>
The mistreatment of a pastor in Iran awaiting a decision on his death sentence for refusing to recant his faith amounts to physical and psychological torture, a source close to the pastor’s family said.
Yousef (also spelled Youcef) Nadarkhani, sentenced to death a year ago after a court of appeals in Rasht, Iran, found him guilty of leaving Islam in September 2010, is in deteriorating health, according to a member of Nadarkhani’s denomination, the Church of Iran, who requested anonymity.
He said that communication with Nadarkhani is limited, but that sources close to the imprisoned Christian indicated that he has undergone physical and psychological torture. more >>
The U.S. Department of State has requested that Iran free pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who currently awaits his verdict on charges of apostasy and evangelizing Muslims.
Jordan Sekulow, executive director for the American Center for Law and Justice, met with U.S. Department of State officials on Wednesday to discuss Iran’s violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Nadarkhani’s court case.
On Wednesday, Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook presented her comments at the U.S. Institute for Peace. more >>