A pastor in Iran sentenced to death for refusing to recant his faith may have to wait another year for a ruling on whether the sentence will be upheld, according to sources.
Yousef (also spelled Youcef) Nadarkhani, sentenced to death after a court of appeals in Rasht, Iran, found him guilty of leaving Islam in September 2010, has been in prison since October 2009, yet his lawyers said they were told to not expect any movement on his case for another year.
“The news we have about Yousef is not official, but that’s what the lawyers are saying,” a member of the Church of Iran who requested anonymity told Compass. “The lawyers speak to the judges’ secretaries and hear things. Rasht is not a big city, so it is easy to know what is happening.” more >>
Iran’s Christians fear heightened persecution in their homeland this Christmas season as they prepare to mark the one-year anniversary of a government raid on church houses that resulted in the arrest dozens of believers.
The Dec. 26, 2010, raid involved Iranian authorities storming house churches and private homes in the early morning hours. The international community entered the New Year to find that 70 Christians had been arrested during the holiday season.
An Iranian court is likely to delay its verdict in a case concerning Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who is facing death penalty for converting to Christianity, to allow authorities to further coerce him to convert to Islam as he remains in jail.
The evangelical pastor’s lawyer has learned that the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, has asked the presiding judge over the trial, Ghazi Kashani, to delay the pending judgment and keep him in prison for another year, Present Truth Ministries said in a statement Thursday.
Nadarkhani, a 32-year-old house church leader from the Church of Iran denomination, was convicted of apostasy last year and was sentenced to death by hanging. However, the Supreme Court of Iran asked for the retrial of his case by a lower court in the city of Rasht in northern Gilan Province. more >>
A 29-year-old Iranian Christian man who chose not to follow the Islamic faith of his parents, which is also the dominant religion of the country, was forced to flee Iran recently because of pressure from his family, friends and the authorities.
"In Iran, anyone who converts to Christianity faces various problems," said Abdol-Rahman Mohammad Pouri, as quoted by Mohabat News, an Iranian Christian news agency. "In spite of the love I had for my family, I had to leave home. Everyone rejected me. The only thing that helped me through was my faith in Christ."
The news agency reported Sunday that Pouri had to leave due to "pressures of security authorities," and is currently seeking asylum in neighboring Turkey. Pouri also said even his friends rejected him after he converted to Christianity from Islam, calling him an apostate and an infidel. more >>
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 >>