Berlin fears imminent execution of Iranian pastor

By AFP
Published: March 4, 2012

In Tehran, state news agency IRNA reported that the Iranian envoy in Berlin had denied that a verdict had been reached against Nadarkhani.

BERLIN: Germany’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it had summoned Iran’s ambassador to demand the release of an Iranian Christian pastor, sentenced to death, whose execution Berlin fears is imminent.

“At the request of (Foreign) Minister (Guido) Westerwelle, the Iranian ambassador was summoned yesterday (Friday) to the foreign ministry for the German government to convey its deep concern over the fate of Christian pastor Yusuf Nadarkhani and to demand his immediate release,” a spokeswoman said.

“According to several independent reports, (Nadarkhani) is to be executed soon. Instructions to that effect have been sent by the Iranian judiciary authorities to the central prison in Rasht,” where he is being held, she said.

In Tehran, state news agency IRNA reported that the Iranian envoy in Berlin had denied that a verdict had been reached against Nadarkhani.

“So far, there has been no verdict in Iran against someone who changes his religion. Any verdict by the court will be announced officially,” said Alireza Sheikh Attar, denouncing a “baseless campaign” against Iran.

And Nakdarkhani’s lawyer said there was “nothing new” in the case.

“There is nothing new. We are still awaiting an answer to the letter sent by the court to the supreme leader for his opinion,” Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told AFP, referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“The letter was sent by the court to the leader in early February and we do not know when it will be answered,” Dadkhah added.

Only then will the court issue a verdict, which the convicted person may appeal.

Nadarkhani, 34, became a Christian at the age of 19 and is pastor of a small evangelical community called the Church of Iran.

He was arrested in October 2009 and condemned to death for apostasy for abandoning his Muslim faith.

Islamic sharia law allows for such verdicts to be overturned if the convicted person “repents” and renounces his conversion, which Nadarkhani has refused to do.

Nadarkhani’s conviction was upheld by an appeals court in September 2010, but overturned by Tehran’s Supreme Court, which sent the case back to the lower court in his hometown of Rasht.

Its vice governor, who is responsible for security and political affairs in the province, has since said Nadarkhani’s religious beliefs were not at issue but charged that he is “a Zionist, a traitor and has committed security crimes.”

Human rights leaders fear that he can be executed at any time.

Several other Western countries including the United States, Britain, France and Poland have condemned the sentence and called for his release.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • hammad
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:27AM

    Ignorace will be the end of us muslims.

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  • John B
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:35AM

    There is no compulsion in Islam

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  • Mar 4, 2012 - 7:31AM

    He was arrested in October 2009 and condemned to death for apostasy for abandoning his Muslim faith

    He broke the law. It was the law of the land. Why is this even news?

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  • Raj - USA
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:13AM

    @hammad:
    @John B:

    As expected there are very few comments, just two, so far Even John B has posted short comment only. The reason being that everyone knows the obvious but it is no use commenting as most likely it would be censored and not get published. I appreciate the sincere and honest thoughts of Hammad. As long as there are Muslims like him, and their number continues to grow, it will not be end of Muslims.
    All I would say is that No God of any religion wants to take away a life for his cause. He is the giver of life. If God wants to punish he can do it many other ways. He can easily take away any life by accidents or sickness.

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  • kamran
    Mar 4, 2012 - 2:01PM

    Iran may execute him but God will reward him because the test of a Christian is his faith during adverse circumstances.

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  • unbeliever
    Mar 4, 2012 - 2:07PM

    @Antebellum:
    the germans had a law that jews be exterminated from the face of earth.
    what are your views regarding that?
    were they right?

    Recommend

  • Mj
    Mar 4, 2012 - 3:30PM

    @Antebellum:
    Do you know which other organization kills you for leaving it? Mafia and Mexican drug cartels.

    I unequivocally condemn this brutal and heinous sentence for exercising freedom of conscience. Iran is showing its true colors.

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  • Aftab kenneth Wilson
    Mar 4, 2012 - 6:03PM

    This means if one is a Muslim he then has no other choice other than death. What a religion. I hope that Vatican will also move forward to save the life of this pastor.

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  • Antoinette Norman
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:11PM

    We see this throughout the Bible, where Christians were bring killed for their belief in Christ. The catholic church slaughtered millions of christians, the germans did the same to the Jews. This shows the truth in our faith in Jehovah& the brutality in opposing faiths. Pastor Yusof has the promise of eternal life, which the people that condemn him will be judged for. Shows the truth in Pastor Yusofs faith & belief. God bless you Pastor, death will have no dominion & God will see u through this one way or another.

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  • Cautious
    Mar 4, 2012 - 9:44PM

    The really sad thing is that Iran treats it’s religious minorities far better than Pakistan — that says something about Pakistan.

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  • LH
    Mar 12, 2012 - 4:22AM

    @Antebellum:
    It’s disgusting that one has no choice in what religion to practice. This is a very barbaric law & needs to be changed!

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