Members of the German parliament have joined the global community in pressuring the Iranian government to free evangelical Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who remains in prison with a pending death verdict for alleged apostasy.
A commission in the German Bundestag (the national parliament) recently gathered signatures from Parliament members in a petition for Nadarkhani's release, local media have reported. Parliament members reportedly asked the Iranian government to overturn Nadarkhani's death sentence and to exonerate the embattled pastor – who has now become almost an international poster child for Christian martyrs – according to Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News.
At the same time, signatories noted in the petition the existence of "restrictions that limit them in influencing the Iranian regime regarding political and Human Rights issues," the agency reported. more >>
In the age of the Internet, radio is helping spread the Gospel in the Middle East. The Michigan-based ministry Words of Hope (WOH) broadcasts an hourlong daily radio program in Farsi for Christians and Muslims in Iran.
David Bast, president of WOH, told The Christian Post that "radio continues to be a powerful tool that often we overlook because it's old fashioned. It's not the newest technology, it's not sexy, but it's a powerful medium because it can avoid gatekeepers."
Since the Arab Spring, many young Iranians are looking for alternatives to Islam. There has "been a reaction against Islam because of the government that's in place," he noted, adding that "a great number of the younger generation is questioning Islam itself." He stressed the importance or reaching Iranians through radio at such a time. more >>
In an effort to contain Iran's growing nuclear program, the European Union announced Monday its intent to implement an embargo on Iranian oil as well as increase trade restrictions. Meanwhile, experts say it is likely that Israel, threatened by such a nuclear program, may feel pressured to attack if the international community cannot keep the Iranian regime's nuclear aspirations in check.
These new restrictions from the EU place an intensified amount of pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear productivity. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have all expressed concern over Iran's secret nuclear program, which Iran claims is used for creating nuclear energy.
One month after security forces raided their Assemblies of God Church (AOG) in Ahwaz in western Iran two days before Christmas – which resulted in the arrest of the entire congregation, including children – there is still no word regarding the whereabouts of the church's pastor and three of its congregants. Everyone, but these four, were released from jail not long after the raid.
The church was raided on Dec. 23, in a "pre-organized manner," according to Mohabat News – a Christian news agency in Iran and one of the very few sources reporting on the persecution that the state exercises on its Christian minority.
All attendees at the weekly service were arrested and transferred by bus to an unknown location, the agency reported at the time. The security officials reportedly had their faces covered during the raid and treated the children "badly" during the arrest. All detainees except for the four were freed a few hours later, once their personal details such as home addresses were recorded. However, Pastor Farhad Sabokroh, his wife Shahnaz and Naser Zamen-Dezfuli and Davoud Alijaniare, were reportedly still being held in custody by the Ministry of Intelligence. No reliable information has been made available regarding their health and the condition of the places where they are being held, Mohabat News reports. more >>
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 >>