Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is an Iranian Christian Pastor who is currently imprisoned and facing the death sentence unless he renounces his faith. There is currently a huge amount of international attention focused on his situation. Today at the UN Human Rights Council Iran was discussed. At the meeting the European Union raised the issue of religious freedom and highlighted his case. The following statement has been released by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission:
“The High Representative has in several instances expressed her serious concerns over the increase in executions in Iran and called on Iran to free the Iranian Pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani and other Iranians sentenced to death for offences which according to international standards should not result in capital punishment.
The High Representative is therefore extremely worried about reports that the execution of Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Rasht, Gilan province may be imminent.
The execution of Pastor Nadarkhani on apostasy charges would be another illustration of the deteriorating situation of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The High Representative therefore urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect its international human rights commitments. She strongly calls on Iran not to execute Pastor Nadarkhani. He should be released immediately.”
Christian Solidarity Worldwide, who have been raising awareness of Pastor Nadarkhani’s case for some time are launching a month of prayer for him today also. This is the press release:
Thank you so much for all you have done to support Pastor Nadarkhani, who is facing execution in Iran for apostasy (abandoning Islam).
On 12 April, it is his 35th birthday.
But instead of planning birthday celebrations with friends and family, he remains imprisoned in Rasht, under threat of an execution that could happen any time.
That’s why we are launching a month of prayer and action for him in the run-up to his birthday.
Why was sentenced to death?
Pastor Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009 soon after questioning the Muslim monopoly of the religious instruction for children in Iran, which he felt was unconstitutional. He was charged, tried, found guilty of apostasy and sentenced to death. He’s been in prison ever since and has been under pressure to renounce his faith in exchange for his freedom. Within the last month we received unconfirmed reports that his execution order had been signed.
Show your support – join the month of prayer!
In Acts 12, we read of Peter’s miraculous release from prison as the Church was earnestly praying for him. We have a vital role to play by standing in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani and praying for a lifting of the death sentence and for his unconditional release.
Here’s how you can get involved:
Use the prayer sheet to pray and support Pastor Nadarkhani every week from 12 March to 12 April. Stand in solidarity by taking a photo of yourself with #Nadarkhani written on your hand and upload it to CSW’s facebook group. Thank you for your prayers and support – they are a great encouragement to Pastor Nadarkhani’s family and friends
Emma CSW Campaigns Manager 0845 456 5464 firstname.lastname@example.org
Please pray for Pastor Nadarkhani, that God will protect him and that good will come out of this for him and his country.