“Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, 34, has been sentenced to death for being a Christian and refusing to convert to Islam. Since his arrest more than two years ago, the married father of two has become the face of the persecuted church,” the Christian Post reports.
By Katherine Weber
2/23/2012 Iran (Christian Post) – Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, 34, has been sentenced to death for being a Christian and refusing to convert to Islam. Since his arrest more than two years ago, the married father of two has become the face of the persecuted church. Here are some details about his life and court battle.
Nadarkhani was born in the city of Rasht in the Gilan Province of Northern Iran to Muslim parents.
According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International, Nadarkhani turned to Christianity at the age of 19, becoming a member of the Only Jesus Church in Rasht. Nadarkhani claims he was never a practicing Muslim.
For the past 10 years, Nadarkhani has pastored for a network of house churches. Before his arrest in 2009, he was the pastor of a 400-person congregation in the Gilan province.
Nadarkhani was originally arrested in Dec. 2006 for being a pastor. He was accused of apostasy (leaving Islam for Christianity) and attempting to evangelize Muslims. He was released two weeks later, according to Present Truth Ministries.
In Oct. 2009, Nadarkhani learned that his two Christian sons, Daniel and Yoel (currently 9 and 7 years old, respectively) would be taught about Islam in their local schools, as approved by the government. Nadarkhani went to his children's schools to protest, and was arrested.
On Oct. 12, 2009, a political tribunal in Rasht charged him for protesting, and he was imprisoned in a jail in Lakan, a city seven miles south of his hometown of Rasht.
Nadarkhani's charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims. Nadarkhani repeatedly refused to recant his Christian faith.