Reports have come to light this week of an Iranian Christian pastor being sentenced toexecution after he refused to revert from Christianity back to Islam. The man, Youcef Nadarkhani, is an Iranian Church leader and faces imminent execution after refusing the order given to him by the Iran supreme court to denounce his faith.
Now in his 30s, Nadarkhani, first converted from Islam to Christianity when he was 19 yrs old. However, authorities only caught up to arresting him for his apostasy in 2009 and he was immediately sentenced to death under Islamic Sharia law. Nadarkhani was initially spared by an appeal to the supreme court ruling in July this year. Unfortunately the case was reheard at a court in his home town Gilan, and he again faces execution.
“Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” Nadarkhani allegedly said during his trial.
“To the religion of your ancestors, Islam,” the judge replied, according to the American Center for Law & Justice.
“I cannot,” Nadarkhani conlcuded. -
London’s Foreign Secretary William Hague has condemned the ruling and is appealing to Iran to spare the man’s life. He says this is further illustration of Iran’s “continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom.”
Amnesty International stated that “freedom of belief, which includes the right to change one’s religion, is protected under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.”
Some other fun facts about Iran and execution. Iran executes the second most number of people in the world each year, coming second only to China. This year alone there have been 400 or more executions, most of which have been reported by the government (yeah, most…). 100 alone have occurred this September.
Iran is also one of the few places you can go in the world to view teenagers being executed. On top of that, in contrast to America people sit on death row for a great deal less time. A 17 year old girl recently convicted of murder was sentenced on Aug 20th, denied appeal on Sept 11th, and hanged on Sept 21.
So yeah, Iran, definitely not one of my top 10 places to ‘hang’ out…
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