Full Story of Youcef Nadarkhani
This is the story of Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor now facing execution charges for apostasy.
11/1/2010 Iran (Present Truth Ministries) – Youcef is 33 years old and is from Rasht, in the Gilan province of Iran. For the past ten years he has been a pastor in a network of house churches. He was previously imprisoned in December of 2006, the charges being apostasy (leaving Islam for Christianity) and evangelism (spreading the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ), but was released two weeks later.
He is married and has two sons, ages 8 and 6. They were attending a local school when the government decided that all children should be taught about Islam, including those from Christian families. Youcef went to the school and protested this based on the Iranian constitution, which allows for freedom to practice religion. As a result, the secret police called him before the political tribunal in Rasht, Iran on October 12, 2009. At that time he was arrested, charged for protesting, and has been in prison in Lakan (which is seven miles south of Rasht) ever since. Later the charges changed to apostasy and evangelism to Muslims.
Through this time he has had access to an attorney, and has been allowed visits from his wife, children, and friends. However, for the first month in prison and two weeks before his trial up until now the visits and meetings with his attorney have been limited. They have used various methods to try to convert him back to Islam, including giving him pills, apparently in an attempt to claim that he was insane.
Because Youcef’s faith remained strong, they decided to arrest his wife in order to place more pressure on him. On June 18th, Fatemah Pasindedih was arrested and placed in prison in Lakan. During this time their boys went to live with a relative. Both Youcef and his wife Fatemah were threatened by authorities that their children would be taken away and given to a Muslim family. Youcef was not swayed to turn back to Islam, so his wife was put on trial without an attorney, and sentenced to life in prison. An attorney was later hired and the sentence appealed. The sentence and conviction were overturned and she was released.
On September 21 and 22, 2010, Youcef was put on trial, and verbally given the sentence of death. However, no written verdict was given. Once a written verdict is delivered, 20 days are allowed to appeal the sentence with the Supreme Court of Iran. The absence of the written verdict has prevented the attorney from making an appeal to the Supreme Court of Iran.
Youcef was then transferred to the secret police security prison in Lakan. He is now being denied access to his family and attorney, while the authorities in the area are trying to hide the case and the situation from the world.
It is critical that we continue to pray for pastor Youcef and make our voices heard. Please reach out to your elected officials and to the international news media so that Youcef’s case will come to light.