September 29, 2011
An Iranian court has imposed the death sentence on Yousef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old protestant preacher, for apostasy after he repeatedly refused to recant his Christian faith. The verdict has generated international condemnation this week. The following are excerpts from the verdict and U.S. and British reaction.
Reported excerpts from the court verdict
“He has frequently denied the prophethood of the great prophet of Islam and the rule of the sacred religion of Islam. And he has proven his apostasy by organizing evangelistic meetings and inviting others to Christianity, establishing a house church, baptizing people, expressing his faith to others and denying Islamic values.”
“Yousef Nadarkhani confessed that he converted to Christianity and helped other people to convert and named himself a shepherd and insisted in Christianity. He doesn't believe in Mohammad, Imams and the Quran.
“The contents of the file also support these facts but investigation is needed to prove that he was a Muslim after the age of maturity and practicing Islam. There is not any witness from friends, relatives, family and Muslim people who were in contact with him so the file is incomplete.
“According to the sentence of Imams such as [Ayatollah] Khomeini, the witness is needed to prove whether or not he was a Muslim and if he was a Muslim but remained unwilling to repent, the execution ruling is to be issued."
Pastor Nadarkhani statement refusing to recant
"I am resolute in my faith and Christianity and have no wish to recant".
White House statement on the verdict Sept. 29
“The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran’s own international obligations.
“A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities' utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.
Cong. John Boehner on religious persecution in Iran Sept. 28
“Religious freedom is a universal human right. The reports that Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani will be sentenced to death by the Iranian government unless he disavows his Christian faith are distressing for people of every country and creed. 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 Yousef Nadarkhani’s life, and grant him a full and unconditional release.
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Sept 28
“Despite the finding that Mr. Nadarkhani did not convert to Christianity as an adult, the court continues to demand that he recant his faith or otherwise be executed. The most recent court proceedings are not only a sham, but are contrary to Iranian law and international human rights standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s statement Sept. 28
“I deplore reports that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Church leader, could be executed imminently after refusing an order by the Supreme Court of Iran to recant his faith. This demonstrates the Iranian regime’s continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom. I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani who has no case to answer and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence.”