Iran imprisons pastor on Christmas Day

The pastor was previously jailed for 3 years for practicing Christianity, rejecting compulsory Islamic education for his kids.

December 29, 2012 23:14
3 minute read.
Christan Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

Christan Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani 390. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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BERLIN – Iran’s government again arrested Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, 35, on Tuesday, and incarcerated him at Lakan Prison in Rasht.

Nadarkhani had served nearly three years in prison for practicing Christianity and rejecting the compulsory Islamic education for his two young children.

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Fox News’ 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 holiday.

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].”


He described the persecution of Christians as “catastrophic for the world and the Middle East.”

Landes told the Post that the West needs to seriously think about the issue of reciprocity when dealing with intolerant forms of Islam.

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 bars.”

According to Fox News, since Nadarkhani's release in September, his attorney, Muhammad Ali Dadkhah has been imprisoned.

“Iran’s flagrant 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 September.

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 December.

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 globe.

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.”

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