Youcef Nadarkhani Case: Brazil Has Great Influence on Efforts to Free Iran Pastor, Says BCLJ Director

Brazil has been considered to be a key-country with "great influence" on the negotiations with Iranian government to free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, according to Director of Operations of Brazilian Center for Law and Justice (BCLJ), Filipe Coelho.

Coelho said, in a recent email to The Christian Post, that the protests that took place at the recently held Rio + 20 – the UN Conference on Sustainable Development - and an official letter delivered to Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to demand Youcef's release, have been very positive.

"We don't know if the letter reached his hands, but we know that a lot of people who were not aware of the case got involved after the protests held by some Brazilian pastors," he wrote to CP.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been arrested and imprisoned in Iran, being accused of apostasy for having converted from Islam, and many fear he will face the death penalty.

Good diplomatic relations between Brazil and Iran are seen as hopeful for the efforts to release the Pastor. According to Filipe, specifically for Youcef's case, weekly meetings have been held between the Iran Ambassador in Brazil and the Brazilian senator Magno Malta and the president of Christian Social Party (PSC), Pastor Everaldo Pereira.

"They have been holding a weekly meeting with Ambassador and with this we were able to have good results and a great influence on the case. Our vice-president Michel Temer has also been attentive to us," Filipe said.

Brazil has also contributed to TweetForYoucef campaign, which has recently reached over 3 million accounts on Twitter. According to American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's story is currently reaching 2,246,388 in English and more than 670,000 in Portuguese through BCLJ.

Filipe Coelho believes the campaign can bring worldwide awareness of the pastor's situation and create an international awakening for the human rights abuses in Iran. Consequently, he said, it will result in a multinational effort to press Iran to meets its international obligations, which includes protecting people's right to religious freedom.

BCLJ's Director encourages all Christians to support those who are persecuted for their faith.

"We know that God promises to bless those who are persecuted, but we also know that Hebrews 13:03 says, 'Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.'"

Coelho also invites everyone to participate in the two-day event "48 Hours For Religious Freedom," which be held during the weekend of September 22, 23, on behalf of Pastor Youcef and other Iranian Christians suffering from religious persecution.

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