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Iran: convert awaits execution, refuses last chance to revert to Islam


An Iranian Protestant pastor, sentenced to death in 2010 for apostasy, refused to renounce his Christian faith and revert to Islam during a third and final court hearing this week on September 28.

A Washington Post blog reported that at one hearing


When asked to “repent” by the judges, Yousef [Nadarkhani] stated, “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” The judges replied , “To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.” To which he replied, “I cannot.”

“I deplore reports that Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, an Iranian church leader, could be executed imminently after refusing an order by the Supreme Court of Iran to recant his faith,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague. “This demonstrates the Iranian regime’s continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom. I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani who has no case to answer and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence.”


US House Speaker John Boehner also denounced the Iranian court proceedings.



Iran: Pastor Nadarkhani refuses to recant at final court session, awaits verdict  28/09/2011


Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani refused the final opportunity to renounce his faith at the last hearing of his court case in Rasht, Gilan province, which took place today.  He had previously refused to renounce his faith during sessions held on 26 and 27 September.

At today’s hearing, the pastor’s lawyer, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, presented the final defence, however, the judges have yet to decide on Pastor Nadarkhani’s future. Some sources close to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) indicate the judges could take up to a week to issue their final ruling and announce a timeframe for execution while others fear it could be announced and implemented within a much shorter period of time. There are also fears that the death sentence could be implemented without any official announcement.

Pastor Nadarkhani is facing the death sentence for apostasy (abandoning Islam), after being found guilty in September 2010 by the court of appeals in Rasht. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court of Iran on appeal, but the written verdict of the Supreme Court included provision for annulment of the death sentence if Pastor Nadarkhani renounced his faith.

The court in Rasht, which issued the initial sentence, was asked by the Supreme Court to re-examine whether or not Pastor Nadarkhani had been a practicing Muslim adult prior to converting to Christianity.  In a session earlier this week, the court ruled that Pastor Nadarkhani had not practiced Islam as an adult prior to conversion, but nevertheless upheld the charge of apostasy because the pastor has Muslim ancestry.

In a statement released today, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said, “I deplore reports that Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Church leader, could be executed imminently after refusing an order by the Supreme Court of Iran to recant his faith. This demonstrates the Iranian regime’s continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom. I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani who has no case to answer and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence.”

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “We welcome the Foreign Secretary’s intervention.  We urge others in the international community to raise Pastor Nadarkhani’s case with the Iranian authorities with the utmost urgency, and to seek the annulment of the death sentence against him. CSW continues to call for Pastor Nadarkhani’s immediate and unconditional release.  The conviction and sentence are illegal under Iranian law and in violation of the covenants to which Iran is signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom of religion and the freedom to change one’s religion.

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email or visit

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

Notes to Editors:

1. CSW is asking those who wish to take action to email the Iranian embassy in their home country. Please click here for our appeal. 
2. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, of the Church of Iran denomination, was arrested in his home city of Rasht on 13 October 2009, while attempting to register his church. His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran. He was initially charged with protesting; however the charges against him were later changed to apostasy and evangelising Muslims. His lawyer, Mr Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, a prominent Iranian human rights defender, is also facing legal difficulties. On Sunday 3 July, a court in Tehran sentenced Mr Dadkhah to nine years in jail and a ten-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime". He is currently appealing the sentence.
3. The death sentence for apostasy is not codified in the Iranian Penal Code. However, using a loophole in Iran’s constitution, the judges in Rasht based their original verdict on fatwas by Ayatollahs Khomeini, the “father” of Iran’s revolution in 1979, and Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, and of Makarem Shirazi, currently the most influential religious leader in Iran.
4. The use of fatwas as a basis for the verdict on Nadarkhani is provided for under Article 167 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that while judges have a duty to find a basis for their rulings within the legal code, “if such a basis does not exist, they must cite reliable Islamic sources or a valid fatwa from which they have drawn a judgment in order to issue a verdict. Judges may not refuse to hear cases or issue rulings only because the case before them is not covered in the legal code, or there may be shortcomings or conflicts in the law.”
5. Mohammed Ali Dadhkah is a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, an Iranian organisation, along with Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.

Tags: Yousef Nadarkhani

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Replies to This Discussion

Christian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani faces potential execution

Just days after Iran released two Americans accused of spying, an Iranian court has upheld the apostasy conviction and execution sentence of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

The 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court has determined that Nadarkhani has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ. Iran’s supreme court had previously ruled that the trial court must determine if Youcef had been a Muslim before converting to Christianity.

However, the judges, acting like terrorists with a hostage, demanded that he recant his faith in Christ before even taking evidence. The judges stated that even though the judgment they have made is against the current Iranian and international laws, they have to uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.

July-December, 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, U.S. De...

When asked to “repent” by the judges, Youcef stated, “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” The judges replied , “To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.” To which he replied, “I cannot.”

It is reported that Youcef was able to see his children for the first time since March and was in good spirits speaking of how he longed to serve the church upon his release.

Pastor Youcef will be brought to the court for two additional “hearings” on September 27th and 28th for the sole purpose of being called upon to recant his Christian faith. The ACLJ’s sources report that although Pastor Youcef’s attorneys will attempt to appeal the case, there is no guarantee that the provincial court will not act on its own interpretation of Sharia law and execute pastor Youcef as early as Wednesday.

Technically, there is no right of appeal, and under Iran’s interpretation of Hadith and Sharia law, Pastor Youcef is to be given three chances to recant. He has already been asked to recant twice, and will be asked to do so again Tuesday. If he does not recant his Christian faith, he could be executed at any time.

We are continuing to press for the international community to take note of Youcef’s situation and call for his unconditional release. We are also continuing to work with members of Congress and are urging the State Department to get involved to save the life of this Christian pastor.

There is still time to save this pastor’s life.

Please share Youcef’s situation with anyone you know and pray for his release and the safety of his attorney, a brave Muslim who has been sentenced to nine years in prison and banned from practicing law by the Iranian government.

Firouz Sadegh-Khandjani, a Member of the Council of Elders for the Church of Iran and a close personal friend of Youcef, called into my radio show Tuesday from Iran to provide an update on Pastor Youcef. You can listen to the interview here.

Update: Speaker of the House John Boehner released the following statement on the case:

Religious freedom is a universal human right. The reports that Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani will be sentenced to death by the Iranian government unless he disavows his Christian faith are distressing for people of every country and creed. While Iran’s government claims to promote tolerance, it continues to imprison many of its people because of their faith. This goes beyond the law to an issue of fundamental respect for human dignity. I urge Iran’s leaders to abandon this dark path, spare Yousef Nadarkhani’s life, and grant him a full and unconditional release.



By  |  01:16 PM ET, 09/27/2011


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Statement by the Press Secretary on Conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.  Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people.  That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran’s own international obligations.   A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities' utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens.  We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion. 

Pastor Nadarkhani is a brave man, he must know that after being asked a third time to return to islam, that he risks death if he refuses.  I hope he is spared the death penalty. He should not be facing any criminal charges at all. and his case is not an isolated one, it is going on all the time. Would eveyone here post the names of everyone they know of, like Asia Bibi, so i can compile a list to send to william Hague so that he might speak out in defence of and bring to the attention of the various govenments, all the cases of people being persicuted for their non muslim beliefs.


It seems that the only reason the pastor is getting attention is because western govenments are pilling pressure on the iranian govenment over its nuclear programme, and not because of the injustice of the pastors case.  Noone should be imprisoned or put to death for not converting to or leaving a religion, weather they live in Iran, or pakistan or any other country, and our govenment should make that point loudley and publicly.

from Robert Spencer


When Muhammad's words are not Islamic

This sounds great, right? A Muslim writing about the Yusef Nadarkhani case says that there is no Islamic justification for the death penalty for apostates. The only problem is that he doesn't even mention the fact that some Muslim authorities, contrary to his claims, do root the death penalty for apostasy in the Qur'an. Nor does he mention Muhammad's words about death to apostates.

Does he not know about this material? Or is he just being dishonest?

Islamic authorities generally base the death penalty for apostasy in two Qur'anic verses, 2:217 and 4:89. Here is 2:217:

They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members." Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.

What does it mean that the works of those who "turn back from their faith and die in unbelief" will "bear no fruit in this life" as well as in the next? Let's go for an answer to the Tafsir al-Qurtubi, a classic and thoroughly mainstream exegesis of the Qur'an. About 2:217, Qurtubi says this:

Scholars disagree about whether or not apostates are asked to repent. One group say that they are asked to repent and, if they do not, they are killed. Some say they are given an hour and others a month. Others say that they are asked to repent three times, and that is the view of Malik. Al-Hasan said they are asked a hundred times. It is also said that they are killed without being asked to repent.

Did you notice one option that Qurtubi never mentions? That's right: he never says anything like "some say the apostate should not be killed." The only point of contention seems to be how long the Muslim must wait before he kills the apostate.

Meanwhile, 4:89 says this:

They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they). But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.

Thus those who have fled from what is forbidden, i.e., embraced Islam, should be killed if they "turn renegades." The Tafsir al-Jalalayn, another venerable and respected commentary on the Qur'an, explains that a Muslim should not trust these people "until they emigrate in the way of God, a proper emigration that would confirm their belief" -- that is, if they leave their homes to join up with the Muslims. "Then, if they turn away, and remain upon their ways, take them, as captives, and slay them wherever you find them." Here again, no attempt is made, in this Qur'an commentary or any of those that Muslims revere as trustworthy, to explain that this does not actually mean that one should kill the "renegade."

Hasan focuses narrowly on the Qur'an. He never mentions, although he surely must know, that Muhammad said "Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him" (Bukhari 9.84.57) and that this statement in the Hadith (in which it appears several times) became the foundation for the unanimous verdict of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence: the apostate must be killed.

"This brutality is not Islam," by Mehdi Hasan in the Guardian, September 30 (thanks to Paul):

my comment on Jihad Watch

This is what the Guardian readers want to hear.  So like a good Muslim, paving the way for more Muslim immigration, the non-Muslim population is again assured that Islam is a ‘religion of peace.’

As for his comment ‘The irony is that I have yet to come across an ordinary Muslim who agrees that a fellow believer who loses, changes or abandons his or her faith should be hanged.’

He must not get out very often.  He can easily wander around Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner on any Sunday afternoon or visit the East London Mosque to find such Muslims.  But then that would not fit into the picture he wants to paint for the larger Kafir society.

the article from the Guardian:

This brutality is not Islam


by Mehdi Hasan in the Guardian, September 30


The death sentence given to Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran is an affront to universal moral values and a disservice to Muslims


Freedom of religion is guaranteed by Islam’s holy book in the famous verse: ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion'.


In 1948, most of the world's Muslim-majority nations signed up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including article 18, "the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion" which includes, crucially, the "freedom to change his religion or belief". The then Pakistani foreign minister, Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, wrote: "Belief is a matter of conscience, and conscience cannot be compelled."

Fast-forward to 2011: 14 Muslim-majority nations make conversion away from Islam illegal; several – including Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Sudan – impose the death penalty on those who disbelieve. The self-styled Islamic Republic of Iran has sentenced to death by hanging a Christian pastor, born to Muslim parents, for ap.... At the time of writing, Youcef Nadarkhani, head of a network of Christian house churches in Iran, is on death row for refusing to recant and convert back to Islam.

The decision to execute Nadarkhani beggars belief. For a start, the sentence handed down by judges in the pastor's home city of Rasht a year ago, and affirmed by the country's supreme court in June, is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but Iran's own constitution. Article 23 is crystal clear: "The investigation of individuals' beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief."

Pleas for clemency from the archbishop of Canterbury, the UK's foreign secretary and Amnesty International, among others, have fallen on deaf ears in Tehran. Meanwhile the silence from the world's Muslims – especially the UK's usually voluble Muslim organisations and self-appointed "community leaders" – has been shameful. The irony is that I have yet to come across an ordinary Muslim who agrees that a fellow believer who loses, changes or abandons his or her faith should be hanged. Yet frustratingly few Muslims are willing to speak out against such medieval barbarism. We mumble excuses, avert our eyes.

There is a misguided assumption among many Muslims that such an abhorrent punishment is divinely mandated. It isn't. Classical Muslim jurists wrongly conflated apostasy with treason. The historical fact is that the prophet Muhammad never had anyone executed for apostasy alone. In one well-documented case, when a Bedouin man disowned his decision to convert to Islam and left the city of Medina, the prophet took no action against him, remarking only that, "Medina is like a pair of bellows: it expels its impurities and brightens and clears its good".

Nor does the Qur'an say that a Muslim who apostasises be given any penalty. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by Islam's holy book in the famous verse: "Let there be no compulsion in religion" (2:256). Apostasy is deemed a sin, but the Qur'an repeatedly refers to punishment in the next world, not this one. Take the 137th verse of chapter 4: "Those who believe then disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in disbelief, God will never forgive them nor guide them to the Way" (4:137). This verse, which explicitly allows for disbelief, followed by belief, followed once again by disbelief, suggests any punishment is for God to deliver – not judges in Iran, Saudi Arabia or anywhere else.

Interestingly, the judgment in the Nadarkhani case is based not on Qur'anic verses but the fatwas of various ayatollahs. Fatwas, however, differ. For example, the late Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, a grand ayatollah and one-time heir apparent to Ayatollah Khomeini, argued that the death penalty for apostasy was originally prescribed to punish only political conspiracies against the nascent Islamic community; Montazeri believed Muslims today should be free to convert to another religion.

The decision to execute Nadarkhani, therefore, is both an affront to universal moral values and a disservice to the cause of Islam. There can be no freedom of religion without the freedom to leave or change one's religion. To try to control a person's mind and heart, their thoughts and beliefs, is the ultimate negation of individual freedom. It is totalitarianism, pure and simple.

It also doesn't work. Another late Iranian ayatollah, and high-profile ally of Khomeini, Murtaza Muttahari, once wrote of the sheer pointlessness of any and all measures to compel belief upon a Muslim (or ex-Muslim!), arguing that it was impossible to force anyone to hold the level of rationally inspired faith required by the religion of Islam. "It is not possible to spank a child into solving an arithmetical problem," proclaimed Muttahari. "His mind and thought must be left free in order that he may solve it. The Islamic faith is something of this kind." Muslims have to ask ourselves: Is the God we worship so weak and needy that he requires us to force our fellow humans to worship him? Is our religion so frail and insecure that it cannot tolerate any rejection whatsoever? And why are we silent as an innocent Christian is sentenced to death in the name of Islam? To hang a man for refusing to believe in Islam is theologically and morally unjustifiable; it is not just unIslamic but anti-Islamic.

First the Christians, then the leftists. (In case you're wondering, they've already done the Gays).
I'm not gloating, I'm just observing.

An update on the fate of this man's ongoing persecution and suffering:


Iranian Christian pastor to be hanged ‘immediately’


By Ed West

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian Christian pastor sentenced to death for apostacy, is to be hanged “imminently”, an American human rights group is reporting.

The American Center for Law and Justice has been informed by contacts inside the Islamic republic that an execution order has been issued for Mr Nadarkhani, who has refused to recant his Christian faith and return to Islam.

Jordan Sekulow, executive director for the American Center for Law and Justice, told American news site yesterday evening that “At this point, we can confirm that he is still alive,” but that “We know that the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, must approve publicly held executions, but only a small percentage of executions are held in public — most executions in Iran are conducted in secret,” he said. “We are calling on the Iranian government to release the pastor immediately.”

Mr Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two, was arrested and sentenced to death in Iran’s northern city of Rasht in 2009.

An appeals court upheld his sentence last year after he refused to reconvert to Islam, after he had been given three chances to recant. A member of the Protestant evangelical Church of Iran, Mr Nadarkhani was never formally a Muslim but came from a Muslim background.

The sentence has been widely condemned around the world, by among others US president Barack Obama, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. In October the Iranian state media claimed that Nadarkhani is facing the death sentence for rape and extortion, not for apostasy and evangelism.


So to all those that don't understand. To keep the peace you must be a muslim, or you must die. How wonderfully simple. If you wish to cause sane men to go berserk and start killing innocent people, (including yourself) then find away to insult Allah the one true god (unless you can prove theres another one) and mohhamad his last hobbit. Which shouldn't be hard, just say 'i'm not a muslim' and away they'll go spitting, cursing and killing till the sun goes down... And sometimes even later! depends if they gotta get a couple of prayer sessions in before bed.


He has been executed.  Strangled to death.

Time for Terry Jones to get hold of his box of matches.  

Here we get the same old selective quoting from a muslim shill.  Mehdi Hasan is the same "socialist" who defended the jew-hating Jenny Tonge, who defended the right-wing homophobia of Baroness Warsi, who exculpated the would-be assassin of Stephen Timms.

The same liberal "socialist" who, when amongst muslims in Pakistan, described jews, christians and hindus as animals of no intelligence.

Kinana said:

the article from the Guardian:

This brutality is not Islam


by Mehdi Hasan in the Guardian, September 30


The death sentence given to Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran is an affront to universal moral values and a disservice to Muslims


Freedom of religion is guaranteed by Islam’s holy book in the famous verse: ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion'.

Mehdi Hasan attempts to tie in EDL with Breivik ;


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Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

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