Jay Sekulow

Faith & Justice


Pressure Needed to Save Life of Iranian Christian Pastor

posted by Jay Sekulow

There’s a case we’re involved in that truly is a matter of life or death. 

Youcef Nadarkhani is a Christian pastor in Iran. He represents one of the largest Christian churches there with some 400 members. Here’s the problem: Youcef was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death for his Christian faith.

Youcef merely spoke out against an Iranian policy that requires all children, regardless of their faith, to be taught Islamic teachings. When he pointed out that the Iranian constitution grants freedom of religion, local police demanded that he appear before a political tribunal where he was arrested and imprisoned and later convicted – his charge, unlawful apostasy and evangelism to Muslims.

Now, it appears the Iranian Supreme Court says it will execute him unless he recants his faith – rejects his Christian beliefs. This is unacceptable. Read more about our involvement here.

We have legal teams in this country and in Europe working on this case. We’ve sent a letter to the U.S. State Department, posted here, and to the Iranian Mission at the United Nations, posted here – urging Youcef’s release.

Some encouraging news to report. The U.S. State Department has now issued a release – putting this issue in the spotlight.

“We are dismayed over reports that the Iranian courts are requiring Youcef Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith or face the death penalty for apostasy – a charge based on his religious beliefs. If carried out, it would be the first execution for apostasy in Iran since 1990,” according to the release.

The statement also points out Iran’s troubling history and calls on Iran to respect the fundamental rights of all of its citizens.

“While Iran’s leaders hypocritically claim to promote tolerance, they continue to detain, imprison, harass, and abuse those who simply wish to worship the faith of their choosing. We join the international community in continuing to call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental rights of all its citizens and uphold its international commitments to protect them.”

This statement by the State Department, posted here, is an important first step. But there needs to be more pressure, an outcry from around the world. We will continue to do all that we can to bring attention to this issue and to get the Iranian government to spare the life of Youcef.

While the fight to save Youcef continues, there’s fresh evidence to suggest that radical Islam and the danger it poses is still a very real threat to our freedom and liberty here at home.

You can rest assured those who want to destroy America and our way of life will stop at nothing – they will be creative and imaginative in their disturbing commitment to strike out against Americans.

The fight against terrorism in this country must be aggressive and unrelenting. But, unfortunately, the Obama Administration is headed down the wrong road in prosecuting a terrorist suspect from Somalia.

The case against Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame is headed for a civilian court, instead of a military tribunal. The suspect has provided what officials have called important intelligence about al Qaeda in Yemen and its relationship with al-Shabab militants in Somalia.

The decision to prosecute this Somali – and to grant him rights afforded to U.S. citizens – is not only wrong, but a grave mistake. The place for this trial – a military tribunal – not a U.S. courtroom. That was made clear by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor.

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It’s vital that we continue to speak out about the kind of justice that needs to take place in the prosecution of terrorists. We will continue to advocate that the proper venue for these kind of prosecutions is a military tribunal, not a civilian court.

We will continue to support efforts to protect Americans from another terrorist strike – even as terrorists consider the horrific prospect of implanting explosives inside humans.

And, of course, our unwavering dedication to protecting religious freedom and human rights goes on. Our work continues and our prayers remain with Youcef Nadarkhani, the Christian pastor from Iran who is facing a death sentence for simply preaching the Gospel.

 



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