Court of Iran has upheld a lower court’s conviction in an apostasy case against
Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Nadarkhani was
sentenced to death for his faith in Jesus Christ.
International Campaign for Human Rights is calling for the reversal of the
conviction and sentence, as well as the release of pastor Behrouz
Sadegh-Khanjani, who is under legal fire on similar charges in Iran.
The argument to
free Nadarkhani points to Iran’s law, which does not contain articles relating
to apostasy. The judge said he exercised his right to make a decision based on
texts penned by Iran’s religious scholars.
“It is the low
point of any judicial system to sentence a person to death outside of its own
legal framework,” said Aaron Rhodes, a spokesperson for
the Campaign. “To execute someone based on the religion they choose to
practice or not practice is the ultimate form of religious discrimination and
disregard for the freedom of conscience and belief.”
Nadarkhani was born into a Muslim family, but came to faith in Christ at age
19. When interrogated, Nadarkhani offered a written confession stating he left
Islam for Christianity. During his trial, however, he testified that he was
pressured to make the statement.
“I am not an
apostate … prior to 19 years old I did not accept any religion,” Nadarkhani
said at trial. “My interrogator coaxed me [into thinking] that a person who is
born to Muslim parents, and does not accept a religion other than Islam before
reaching the religious maturity age, is automatically a Muslim.”
lawyer filed an objection on Dec. 5. The lawyer contends that the constitution
of the Islamic Republic clearly grants Christians the right to worship and
congregate. The constitution also mandates Iran to offer equal human rights to