Friday, September 30, 2011

Iranian pastor refuses to convert to Islam, now under threat of death

"...there is no compulsion in religion..."(2-256) except when there is.  Islamic law allows for one who is not a Muslim be given four chances to recant their apostolic beliefs and turn towards the light of Muhammad before more strict punishments are imposed.  Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani just received his fourth invite to Islam, and for the fourth time he refuses.  He may be executed within the week.

Iran has the second highest execution record on earth, this year they have killed almost 400, 125 of those in September alone.

From International Business Times September 29 by Daniel D. Tovrov

Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Death: Nadarkhani Refuses to Convert

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is facing the death penalty, again refused to convert to Islam to save his life.
Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009 for the crime of apostasy because he allegedly abandoned Islam for Christianity. As a pastor, Iranian clerics believe that Nadarkhani was preaching in order to convert Muslims.
Before his last hearing Wednesday, Nadarkhani had been given three previous chances to repent, and all three times he has refused. After his final refusal Wednesday, no verdict has been announced, but many expect that he could be put to death as soon as Friday.
The case has slowly garnered international attention, and there are a number of Christian rights groups advocating for his release. 
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner also has spoken out against Iran. "While Iran's government claims to promote tolerance, it continues to imprison many of its people because of their faith. This goes beyond the law to an issue of fundamental respect for human dignity. I urge Iran's leaders to abandon this dark path, spare [Nadarkhani's] life, and grant him a full and unconditional release," said Boehner.
There were rumors on Wednesday night that Nadarkhani's execution sentence was to be waived after the final trial, but contradicting reports indicate that the news was incorrect.
"We've had some reports that there has been a verbal announcement from the court in Iran that the sentence is annulled but we urge caution," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious group campaigning for Nadarkhani's release.
"It's been known that verbal announcements have been directly contradicted by later written statements. We are still calling for international pressure to be kept up."
The American Center for Law and Justice said in a message titled "Troubling News" that the rumors were spread by the Iranian secret service in an attempt to get the media to stop reporting the story. ACLJ said Nadarkhani's lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah called the center Wednesday to say the death sentence hasn't been overturned.
Even if the sentence were commuted, Nadarkhani could still face life in prison. And even if he were released, there would still be danger.
Read it all

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