A pastor in Iran has another court hearing scheduled for Sunday. He is under a death sentence for converting to Christianity.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani remains behind bars in Rasht awaiting what is called a re-examination. He claims he never really practiced the Islamic faith. Jason DeMars of?Present Truth Ministries?tells OneNewsNow what can be expected at the hearing.
“They will be determining whether he was a Muslim between the ages of 15 and 19 — after the age of accountability — and then 19 when he became a Christian,” he explains. “Then they will forward their results on to the Branch 27 of the Supreme Court, which will have the final decision on whether he is executed or not.”
DeMars says there are several ways the court can look at it according to the Shiite faith. He takes a look at the likely argument the government prosecutor will take.
“He did not practice Islam his entire life,” DeMars points out, “but they may simply look at it and say he was born into a Muslim home, he knew about Islam his whole life, and therefore we determine that by these definitions he was a Muslim and he should recant it.”
If Nadarkhani is determined to be a Muslim, the finding will be sent to the Supreme Court for a final determination — a process that could take up to six months. DeMars is convinced the only thing that will save the pastor from the hangman’s noose is prayer.
The?Jubilee Campaign, a group that promotes religious liberty of ethnic and religious minorities, is requesting prayer for an Iranian Christian sentenced to death.
Iran has not executed a citizen for changing faiths since 1990, when a pastor was hanged. In the latest case, however, Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who has been in prison since last year.
“The fact that Iran has upheld the death sentence for specifically converting from Islam to Christianity means that any of the Christians currently in Iran who are converts will also potentially face the death sentence,” warns Ann Buwalda, immigration attorney and founder of the U.S. branch of the Jubilee Campaign.
And Iran, she adds,?is fairly quick to execute criminals.
“Even two months ago, they executed a couple, where one of the spouses was Jewish and the other a Christian,” Buwalda reports. “Both were executed at Evin Prison in Tehran by hanging.”
According to the immigration attorney, the situation does not bode well for other Christians imprisoned in Iran. She notes that there has been a crackdown against the underground church in Iran for some time, and others are likely to face persecution. Since Iran is not inclined to listen to the United States, Buwalda hopes European nations will intervene on behalf of Pastor Yousef.