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Published On: Mon, Nov 1st, 2010

Obama Admin Pressed To Defend Youcef Nadarkhani, Pastor Jailed In Iran

A U.S. government body in charge of monitoring religious freedom in the world is urging the Obama administration to demand Iran that release a Christian pastor who is facing possible execution for apostasy.

Youcef Nadarkhani and His Wife Fatemah Pasindedah

Youcef Nadarkhani and His Wife Fatemah Pasindedah

The Obama administration is being asked to press Iran for the release of Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been jailed for over one year, expressed the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in a statement Friday.

The non-partisan commission noted that past experiences with Iran have shown that pressure from the international community can influence the fate of prisoners.

“This case is further evidence that there is no transparency or justice in Iran’s so-called legal system for religious minorities,” remarked USCIRF Chair Leonard Leo. “Time is of the essence here. This man’s life is at stake. We call upon our government and the international community to press for his release and ensure that Iran takes no extreme action in this case or in others like it.”

Nadarkhani, the leader of a church network in Rasht, Iran, was arrested on Oct. 13, 2009, after he objected to the practice of forcing Christian school students – including his own children – to read the Quran.

He argued that the Iranian constitution gives parents the right to raise children in their own faith.

The Northern Iranian pastor and later his wife, Fatemeh Passandideh, were charged with apostasy.

Nadarkhani’s wife was released earlier in October after spending four months in jail, but Yousef was orally informed that he has received the death penalty for apostasy. The Iranian pastor, however, has not yet received a formal verdict on his execution.

“He is currently under a sentence of death, but they are delaying the delivery of the verdict in order to put more pressure on him to turn away from Christ,” reported Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries.

“Once the written verdict is delivered, there will be 20 days to appeal to the Supreme Court,” DeMars added in his ministry’s website.

“This case is further evidence that there is no transparency or justice in Iran’s so-called legal system for religious minorities,” remarked USCIRF Chair Leonard Leo. “Time is of the essence here. This man’s life is at stake. We call upon our government and the international community to press for his release and ensure that Iran takes no extreme action in this case or in others like it.”

“This pattern of arrest and harassment of religious minorities, coupled with increasing inflammatory rhetoric from President Ahmadinejad and other leaders has not been seen since in the early years of the Iranian revolution,” Leo remarked.

About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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