Iran imprisons pastor on Christmas Day
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JPOST CORRESPONDENT
The pastor was previously jailed for 3 years for practicing Christianity, rejecting compulsory Islamic education for his kids.
BERLIN – Iran’s government again arrested Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, 35, on
Tuesday, and incarcerated him at Lakan Prison in Rasht.
served nearly three years in prison for practicing Christianity and rejecting
the compulsory Islamic education for his two young children.
Iran expert Lisa Daftari reported on Nadarkhani’s arrest based on
Persian-language press reports. The pastor converted from Islam to Christianity
as a teenager.
“Once again there is religious insecurity,” Dr. Richard
Landes, a professor of history who is also the director and co-founder
of the Center of Millennial Studies at Boston University, told The Jerusalem
Post from Prague via phone.
This form of radical Islam “cannot possibly
tolerate other people’s religions,” he continued.
“Talk about the Grinch
at Christmas,” he added, pointing out that the arrest came on the Christian
Landes, who spoke earlier this year at a CAMERA event on the
persecution of Christians in the Middle East, said that the Arabs kicked out the
“Saturday people [i.e. Jews] in 1948 from Muslim-majority countries in the
region and are now kicking out the Sunday people [Christians].”
described the persecution of Christians as “catastrophic for the world and the
Landes told the Post that the West needs to seriously think
about the issue of reciprocity when dealing with intolerant forms of
The West needs to be “less generous,” he opined, added that a
religion of peace should not treat other faiths this way and that the “West
should be working to protect these people [Christians].”
In an email to
the Post on Saturday, Ben Cohen, a New York-based writer who has reported
extensively on the persecution of Christians, wrote, “From the moment of his
release, the Iranian authorities made it clear that Nadarkhani would likely
return to jail to complete his original sentence. Taking him into custody on
Christmas Day is a sobering reminder that fear, harassment and intimidation are
the regime’s principal tools in its dealings with Iranian Christians. And so we
enter 2013 with both Nadarkhani and Dadkhah, his lawyer, behind
According to Fox News, since Nadarkhani's release in September,
his attorney, Muhammad Ali Dadkhah has been imprisoned.
disregard for international law by imprisoning this Christian for a second time
for his faith did not occur coincidentally on Christmas Day. Iran is
increasingly persecuting Christians and anyone who is willing to defend them,”
wrote the Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice, which promotes
religious freedom both in the US and abroad and spearheaded a massive global
media and political campaign for Nadarkhani’s release in
During an appearance on Fox News, Jay Sekulow, the chief
counsel for the ACLJ, decried Iran’s regime as “lawless,” and pointed out that
it had also imprisoned Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini in
Sekulow said the ACLJ is pressing all organizations to release
the religious and political prisoners, including Nadarkhani’s attorney. He said
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps was involved in the arrests and was working
against proponents of Christianity.
The IRGC is believed to be
supervising Iran’s nuclear program and behind terrorist operations across the
Dexter Van Zile, an American media analyst who is affiliated with Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and works to draw attention to the plight of Christians living in Muslim-majority countries, wrote the Post by email on Saturday, "These oppressive acts expose Iran as an open-air gulag deserving of contempt from free people everywhere. If the West remains silent it proves itself unworthy of the liberties it now enjoys.”