Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was charged with apostasy and may be executed if he does not recant his faith. It’s believed his case will be remanded back to Iran’s lower courts, Fox News reports.
By Amy Kellogg
7/13/2011 Iran (Fox News) – Iran’s Supreme Court says an evangelical pastor charged with apostasy can be executed if he does not recant his faith, according to a copy of the verdict obtained by a religious rights activist group.
Christian Solidarity World says Iranian-born Yousef Nadarkhani, who was arrested in 2009 and given the death sentence late last year, could have his sentence suspended on the grounds that he renounce his faith.
Those who know him say he is not likely to do that, for if he were disposed to giving it up, he would have done it long ago.
If Nadarkhani does not recant, his fate is unclear. It’s believed his case would then be remanded to lower courts in Iran.
Nadarkhani, from Rasht, on the Caspian Sea, converted to Christianity as a teenager. He is reportedly an effective pastor, who has converted an unknown number of people from Islam to Christianity.
Some believe he has about 400 people in his church.
Iran has ancient Armenian and Assyrian churches. The Evangelical Church of Iran is relatively new, church officials tell Fox News, a product of the legacy of Anglican missionaries who were in Iran in the last two centuries. Even after the Islamic Revolution, Iran been fairly tolerant of the older Armenian and Assyrian orders, which date back to the early days of Christianity, but has been less accepting of Evangelical conversions.
Ghaemi says, “Most churches in Iran operate with some degree of secrecy. They operate in homes. People take their batteries out of their cellphones and leave them at the door. They show up at random times so as to avoid the appearance of a crowd filing in. The current government sees them as a threat.”