Tuesday, September 30, 2014


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Lawyer Hopeful For Release Of Iranian Christian Pastor Facing Death

Yusef Naderkhani has been in jail since October 2009
Yusef Naderkhani has been in jail since October 2009
By Golnaz Esfandiari
The lawyer of Yusef Naderkhani, an Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy, says there is a good chance his client will be acquitted. 
 
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah made the comments to RFE/RL's Radio Farda as international anger over the sentence grew.
 
"I have provided the court with explanations that I believe will make the court change its decision, and it is 90 to 95 percent likely that the court will acquit Naderkhani," Dadkhah said.
 
The 33-year-old Naderkhani converted to Christianity from Islam in 1997, when he was 19. He was arrested in 2009, when he was serving as the pastor of a small church in the northern city of Rasht. A court sentenced him to hanging after convicting him of apostasy.  
 
Islamic law in Iran says a Muslim who converts to another faith can face the death penalty. 
 
Naderkhani's wife was sentenced to life imprisonment but has been released. 
 
Call To Repent
 
The Supreme Court upheld Naderkhani's sentence but said his conviction would be overturned if he repented and renounced his conversion.
 
Lawyer Dadkhah said that at a recent court appearance Naderkhani refused multiple demands to repent. 
 
Dadkhah said he argued against the death sentence for his client. 
 
"I said that at the time of Prophet Mohammad no one was killed for being an apostate. The history of Islam shows that at the time of the Prophet three tribes became apostate but the Prophet didn't [order] them to be killed. There's nothing about killing apostates in the Koran," he said. 


Dadkhah is a prominent human rights advocate and a colleague of Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. In July, he was sentenced to nine years in prison and banned for 10 years from practicing law.

He has appealed the sentence and is waiting for a final decision.
 

The court is due to announce its final decision on Naderkhani's conviction in the next few days. 
 
The case has led to strong criticism by the United States and Britain. 
 
The U.S. government on September 29 condemned Naderkhani's conviction and called on Iran to release him. 
 
A statement from the White House said, "That the Iranian authorities would try to force [Naderkhani] to renounce [his] faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran's own international obligations."
 
It added, "A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities' utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens."
 
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner also urged Iran to grant Naderkhani "a full and unconditional release."
 
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on September 28 that he "deplored" reports that the pastor could be executed for not returning to Islam.
 
Crackdown On Proselytizing
 
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has also expressed deep concern about the fate of the Christian pastor and called for his immediate release. 
 
Dwight Bashir, USCIRF's deputy director for policy and research, told RFE/RL that international outrage can only help.
 
"There hasn't been an execution of a Christian pastor for apostasy for over 20 years, but it seems like we're at the cusp of something and it really has to be deterred at this stage," Bashir said. 
 
Iran has in recent years launched a crackdown to curb proselytizing by Christians. 
 
A number of churches have reportedly been shut down and Christian converts arrested. No executions have been carried out. 
 
In January, Tehran Governor Morteza Tamaddon said missionary evangelicals have increased their activities in the Islamic republic. Some Christian converts say there is growing interest in Christianity in Iran. 
 
with reporting by Radio Farda's Keyvan Hosseini
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: maryam from: US
September 29, 2011 23:31
I thought his lawyer, Mr. Dadkhah was in prison. Sentenced to 9 yrs in prison and barred from practicing law for 10 yrs?

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/iran-sentences-prominent-lawyer-9-years-jail-conviction-161345299.html
In Response

by: Moderator
September 30, 2011 05:30
The article has since been amended to include this information

by: Alessandra Melito from: Canada
September 30, 2011 01:59
It is pretty sad that the Islam law allows the killing of one who chooses to serve the real God....Jesus Christ!!!!! Now and forever you rule Lord!!!!...

I pray for the release of this brother in Christ....In Jesus Name.,....Amen!

by: David Christhilf from: Virginia, USA
September 30, 2011 06:10
Here's a Christian who is standing on faith. His bold witness will speak to many.

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

by: PragueGuy from: Prague
September 30, 2011 06:15
Ms.Esfandiari,

Thank you for doing a great job reporting on this important issue. My thoughts and prayers are with Pastor Naderkhani and I consider him a very honorable man for not abandoning his faith!

by: Seidkazi from: Ma Wara An-Nahr
September 30, 2011 08:15
In se, I have nothing against Christians who (along with the Jews) are fellow People of the Book (Ahl ul-Kitab). But Naderkhani, and people like him, should think carefully about who/what they are actually serving. Is that Isa (Jesus)? Or someone/something else? Every ass knows that evangelicals are being used as an ideological weapon against Islam by the neoliberal-neocon-freemason axis. And the latter are essentially satanists. Make no mistake.
In Response

by: Sean from: USA
September 30, 2011 09:47
"I have nothing against Christians..." You sir are a deceiving, al taqiyya muslim. Your entire post is ignorance. I'm a Born Again Christian. We LOVE our enemies, and pray for those who try to persecute us. Whereas muslim like you are ordered to "kill them wherever you find them... Christians and Jews." How can you even attempt to say you have nothing against Christians? Muslims are antisemites (racist), and are called to either murder, convert, or have infidels pay the jizya. Keep your condescending propaganda for the next infidel, Brother.

I still Love you and will pray for you that you soon see the Light. Jesus is our Lord and Savior. He is God, and died for all of our sins. He loves me no more than you. I realize this. Your Allah wants me dead, and is the "greatest of deceivers." Sad!
In Response

by: James from: Nebraska, USA
October 22, 2011 20:07
While our Christian President GHW Bush was quoted as saying he did not think atheists should be citizens of the USA? While he tried to prohibit the practice of my own Wiccan religion at Ft Hood?

All organized religions are bigoted. They don't see their own bigotry, just everyone else's. We love (insert god-name here), meaning that if you don't . . . you are a heretic, an infedel, &c. Read the Bible; I have, we need to for self-defense.
In Response

by: PragueGuy from: Prague
September 30, 2011 11:30
With all due respect Seidkazi, you have the gall to say, "evangelicals are being used as an ideological weapon against Islam by the neoliberal-neocon-freemason axis." Islam, all by its lonesome shoots itself in the foot every day as it continues to show the world how it makes a difference in the world - violence.

Want facts? Ok, consider this: In 2007 Islam and Judaism's holiest holidays overlapped for 10 days. Muslims racked up 397 dead bodies in 94 terror attacks across 10 countries during this time... while Jews worked on their 159th Nobel Prize. I could go on, but it would turn into a book. How can it be that Islam is a religion of peace?

Opps, I better not say that as we should respect Islam because not doing so causes Muslims to get angry and kill. Here is a list of other things we should stop doing as they cause Muslims to get angry and kill: Educating women. Selling alcohol. Pre-marital sex. Sharing a non-Muslim religious faith. Democracy. Disaster relief. Sporting events. Allowing women to dress as they please. Being gay. Being Hindu. Being Christian. Being Jewish. Being Buddhist. Being Sikh. Being Ahmadi. Being Sufi. Going to the wrong mosque... Sounds like a group that I want to avoid!

In Response

by: Dave from: USA
October 05, 2011 13:30
Yeah I agree. Pretty much only an ass would think that way.

by: Jessica from: Colorado
October 01, 2011 03:03
The end is near in which all christian's faith would be tested. Who are real maythr (witnesses) of Jesus Christ? I pray God will send the holy spirit to comfort him during this troubled time. God Bless you my brother in Christ and stay strong for Christ.

by: Anna from: Rausova
October 01, 2011 15:24
1. My question is, is this article about the lawyer or about the pastor.From the titleit seems that it is mainly about the lawyer, but it remains for the discussion.

2. Did Radio Farda report about thecase before Sept 29, 20011?

3. Washington Post reported about the case on Sept 27, 2011 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/religious-right-now/post/christian-pastor-yousef-nadarkhani-faces-potential-execution/2011/09/27/gIQA9ZZB2K_blog.html,) spotlighting the fact that the pastro faces potentionally execution and the lawyer prison sentence.I even sent the link to Golnaz Esfandiari, I hope she received it.

4. I expect the answer to my questions, especially to question 2. The pastor has been in prison since 2009.

5. As a former RFE/RL employee I strongly believe in pursuing human rights andfreedom of religion equally for a Christian pastro and his Moslim lawyer. Both are brave andI salute to them.

6. Thaqnks for the answers. On obtaining them, I will decide about my next stepsre this case.




by: jones from: australia
October 02, 2011 10:18
Don't worry!! our god Yahwe will send Jesus Christ to release Pastor Naderkhani. I always pray for you. Yahwe will always safeguard you, Pastor Naderkhani. Amen.