» 10/20/2010, 00.00
Iranian Protestant pastor, held in prison for months, risks death penalty for apostasy
Youcef Nadarkhani's wife was released a few days ago after four months of detention. The arrest comes as evangelical Christians complain of increased pressure against them, an unprecedented persecution since the advent of the ayatollahs' regime.
Teheran (AsiaNews) - The pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was charged with "apostasy" last month from the 11th Chamber of the Assizes Court of the province of Gilan, northern Iran. His lawyer is going to appeal after finding "serious procedural errors." Nadarkhani was arrested for having questioned Islamic education in schools. "We are a Christian family – he is reported to have said - I want my children to receive a Christian religious education, not Islamic. "
Fatemeh Passandideh, the wife of a famous Iranian Protestant clergyman, was released a few days ago after four months in prison, but her husband is still in jail, and could face a death sentence for apostasy, reports the "Church of Iran”.
The Christian community of the imprisoned pastor has expressed concern about the outcome of the couple’s trial, parents of two young children. The case exploded amid reports of increasing pressure by the authorities towards the "Church of Iran," an umbrella movement of several "underground" Protestant churches in a strict Islamic nation. The "Church of Iran” says it is being subjected to an unprecedented campaign of persecution since the advent of the revolution of 1979. Several members of the movement were arrested in October last year, including the pastor Behrouz Khandjani, who is still in isolation in the "wing 100" in Shiraz. "
"Elam Ministries" a Protestant group specializing in mission to Muslims says it is aware of the case of a young Iranian convert killed a few weeks ago by a relative because of his conversion, leaving a wife and two children. "Middle East Concern, a group of human rights activists said that at least three of the fifteen Christians arrested in July in Mashhad are still in prison, and "under pressure to renounce their faith, but refuse to do so". "Middle East Concern" also refers to the Iranian TV news that nine converts were arrested in Hamedan on charges of proselytism, which potentially carries the risk of a death sentence. "Elam Ministries” claims that in 1979 there were fewer than 500 Christians coming from Islam. "Today the most conservative estimates speak of at least one hundred thousand believers in the country."
Mystery shrouds fate of Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy
The Supreme Court had overturned the decision on the condition of the evangelical leader return to Islam. The sentence for apostasy, not covered by the Code of laws of Iran of political origin.
Iranian Protestant pastor, sentenced to death for apostasy, is released
Judges have dropped the charges against Youcef Nadarkhani in prison since 2009. He was, however, convicted of "evangelizing Muslims." Based on the three-year sentence, he already served the time and should now be released. Satisfaction among the members of the Church of Iran.
Tehran suspends, but does not revoke pastor’s death sentence for converting
Iranian Christians sources publish the text of the Supreme Court ruling against Youcef Nadarkhani, sentenced to be hanged in the first instance, unless he renounces the Christian faith, for apostasy. Must he show that he was not a follower of Islam between 15 and 19 years of age.
Iranian pastor sentenced to death for "crimes against national security"
Governor-General Gholam-Ali Rezvani announces sentence. Immediately denied by Yusef Nadarkhani’s lawyer: "In court, the judges have spoken of apostasy of Islam." The evangelical pastor had converted to Christianity at age 19. He was arrested in 2009. Last July the Supreme Court overturned the sentence.
Isfahan: Protestant clergyman tortured for “converting Muslims”
During a visit in prison, the pastor’s wife saw he had signs of torture. He could be executed. An anti-Protestant crackdown is underway in Isfahan. The regime’s fight against proselytising is coupled with fears that Christian gatherings might host its opponents.
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