07/21/2011, 00.00
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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.
Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iranian Christian sources have released an unofficial translation of the Supreme Court ruling against a pastor, Youceh Nadarkhani, sentenced to death in the first instance for apostasy. The appeal has been examined by the judges of the Supreme Court Morteza Fazel and Azizoallah Razaghi, who have decided to return the case to the lower court. The reasons are explained in the court ruling. (12/07/2011 A convert from Islam, Iranian pastor risks the death penalty).

32 year-old and married, Youcef Nadarkhani, the judges write is accused of "abandoning Islam." "He has often participated in Christian celebrations and organized prayer meetings in homes, evangelizing. After being baptized he baptized others, converting Muslims to Christianity. "

The ruling notes that Youcef was accused of "breaking Islamic law: from puberty (15 years of age) until the age of 19, he was raised as a Muslim in a Muslim house." The text describes the behaviour of the pastor during the process: "the has denied the prophet Muhammad and the authority of Islam. He declared himself Christian and not Muslim. "

Iranian law does not provide the death penalty for apostasy, but in this case, as we read in the sentence, he "was sentenced to be hanged under Article 8 of olvasileh-Tahrir (one of the books of the Ayatollah Khomeini on Shari 'a, ed) and under the fatwa of the Ayatollah Khamenei and Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi. "

The Supreme Court has decided to return his case to state court of Gilan, Section 11, which will have to investigate further and try to determine if Youcef "from age 15 to age 19 was or was not Muslim." The investigation will involve his acquaintances, relatives and elders of the area. If he was Muslim he "must renounce their Christian faith. No research has been done to prove this, and if it is proved that he was a practicing Muslim as an adult, and he does not repent, the sentence will be executed. " Youcef defended himself from the accusation of apostasy arguing that in fact has never been a Muslim, that he did not practice the Islamic faith until the moment of his encounter with Christianity. The Gilan court will review the Youcef’s case this autumn.

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