Iran orders hanging of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
Iran’s judiciary issued orders to hang the dissident Christian, arrested in 2009 for seeking to register a home-based church.
BERLIN – Despite the international outrage over the incarceration and slated
death penalty for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, Iran’s judiciary has issued
orders to hang the dissident Christian.
Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel
for the Washington-based American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), said on
Wednesday, “We are hearing reports from our contacts in Iran that the execution
orders for Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may have been
Nadarkhani, now 34, was arrested in 2009 for questioning the
compulsory Islamic education of his children and for seeking to register a
home-based church. He was sentenced to death in 2010.
The ACLJ has
closely monitored the case and has previously translated Iranian legal
Sekulow added, “It is unclear whether Pastor Youcef would have
a right of appeal from the execution order. We know that the head of Iran’s
Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, must approve publicly held executions, but
only a small percentage of executions are held in public – most executions in
Iran are conducted in secret.”
There has been a dramatic increase of
executions in the Islamic Republic over the last month, Sekulow said.
President Barack Obama, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the
governments of Germany, Britain and France, have called on the Iranian
government to release Nadarkhani.
Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pennsylvania)
drafted a resolution in Congress demanding the immediate release of Nadarkhani
and that the apostasy charge be immediately expunged from the
“Iran has become more isolated because of their drive for nuclear
weapons, and the fundamentalist government has stepped up persecution of
religious minorities to deflect criticism. The persecuted are their own
citizens, whose only crime is practicing their faith,” Pitts told
Small demonstrations across Germany have demanded that Iran
not execute Nadarkhani. In September, 400 protesters showed up in front of the
Iranian Consulate in Hamburg. Since October, there has been a vigil every week
in the northern port city to protest against the pastor’s
Groups in Frankfurt and Berlin have also
A large event is slated for Easter in Hamburg in an effort
to influence the Iranian authorities. A petition for action has collected 23,000
signatures calling for Iran to release the Evangelical pastor.
launched a “Tweet for Youcef social media campaign.” Such activities are
“growing exponentially as Pastor Youcef’s situation has become more dire,” the