Iran claims to be a peaceful, civilized society with it’s citizens enjoying individual freedoms. The reality is far different and this is yet another example of it. Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor in Iran, faces the death penalty if he refuses to convert to Islam.
Nadarkhani was been convicted of "apostasy," the crime of abandoning a religious faith. Despite the fact that he was never anything other than a Christian, Iranian clerics have determined that since his parents were Muslim he is still considered guilty. In spite of the fact that an appeal trial determined that Nadarkhani was not an apostate, Iran's Supreme Court upheld the original decision.
While apostasy isn't technically in Iran's penal code, it is punishable under religious texts and Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwas.
Nadarkhani, who was arrested in 2009, has been given four chances to repent and convert to Islam. All four times he has refused. No verdict has been announced, but many expect that he could be put to death as soon as Thursday.
"Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?" Nadarkhani reportedly said at his trial.
"To the religion of your ancestors, Islam," the judge replied, according to the American Center for Law Justice.
"I cannot," Nadarkhani conlcuded.
The looming execution has outraged international human rights organizations, and a number of Christian and activist groups are trying to rally a public outcry.
"Freedom of belief, which includes the right to change one’s religion, is protected under Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party," Amnesty International stated.
Iran executes the second most people per year, more than every country in the world beside China. Iran has held almost 100 executions in September alone, most, but not all of which, have been reported by the government. There have been about 400 total executions so far in 2011 in Iran, according to Amnesty International. Additionally, Iran is one of the few places where teenagers can be given the death penalty. Last Wednesday, 17-year-old Alireza Molla-Soltani was publicly hanged for the murder.
The execution process is much speedier in Iran than in the U.S., where death row inmates sit for years before being executed. Alireza Molla-Soltani was sentenced to death on Aug. 20, denied appeal on Sept. 11, then hanged on Sept. 21.
Nadarkhani is just the latest Christian to be detained in Iran. Between June 2010 and January 2011, at least 202 people were arrested for their religious beliefs.
"While Iran's government claims to promote tolerance, it continues to imprison many of its people because of their faith," U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "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 [Nadarkhani's] life, and grant him a full and unconditional release."
Iran, who exports terrorism around the world and is dangerously close to producing nuclear weapons, is run by an Islamic Supreme Council that zealously tries to force views of Islam left over from the barbarity of the 7th century on its people. It signs international agreements and claims religious tolerance –then ignores those agreements and imprisons and executes people for not worshiping exactly as the Iranian government dictates.
More importantly, they will not be satisfied until those same beliefs are forced on every living sole in the entire world. This barbarism must be confronted and contained –and under no circumstances should it ever be allowed access to nuclear weapons (which it would not hesitate to use against all us infidels).
Live Long and Prosper...