(Fox News) — An Iranian pastor who has refused to renounce his Christian faith faces execution as early as Wednesday after his sentence was upheld by an Iranian court.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who maintains he has never been a Muslim as an adult, has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ, the 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court ruled. Iran’s Supreme Court had ordered the trial court to determine whether Nadarkhani had been a Muslim prior to converting to Christianity.
When asked to repent, Nadarkhani stated: “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?”
“To the religion of your ancestors, Islam,” the judge replied, according to the American Center for Law & Justice.
“I cannot,” Nadarkhani said.
A 32 year-old Iranian Christian Pastor is reportedly facing execution in Iran unless he is willing to recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani became a Christian as a teenager, and has been under arrest since 2009 for his faith. In Iran – dominated by Islam – there is apparently no room for him to practice and share his faith:
FOX NEWS: Iran’s Supreme Court says an evangelical pastor charged with apostasy can be executed if he does not recant his faith, according to a copy of the verdict obtained by a religious rights activist group.
Christian Solidarity World says Iranian-born Yousef Nadarkhani, who was arrested in 2009 and given the death sentence late last year, could have his sentence suspended on the grounds that he renounce his faith.
Those who know him say he is not likely to do that, for if he were disposed to giving it up, he would have done it long ago. . . .
Ghaemi says, “Most churches in Iran operate with some degree of secrecy. They operate in homes. People take their batteries out of their cellphones and leave them at the door. They show up at random times so as to avoid the appearance of a crowd filing in. The current government sees them as a threat.” . . . . Read More
The reality is that you can go to virtually any nation in the world where Islam is dominant and find the same story. Islam is intolerant to the faith of others, and seeks to silence dissent. Christians in particular are persecuted for their faith, as Islam seeks to keep people from being exposed to any view of life and eternity but its own.
If you are one who prays, say a prayer for this pastor and his family – not only that he will live, but that they will have courage and strength in their fiery trial. While you are praying – thank God for the religious freedom we have in America.
UPDATE 7/15/11 - Here’s a video with more information on Pastor Yousef, urging prayer for him.