Iran orders hanging of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Iran’s judiciary issued orders to hang the dissident Christian, arrested in 2009 for seeking to register a home-based church.

Christan Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani 390 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Christan Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani 390
(photo credit: Courtesy)
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 issued.”
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 documents.
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.
US 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 record.
“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 imprisonment.
Groups in Frankfurt and Berlin have also demonstrated.
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.
ACLJ has launched a “Tweet for Youcef social media campaign.” Such activities are “growing exponentially as Pastor Youcef’s situation has become more dire,” the organization said.