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Iran Re-Arrests Pastor Nadarkhani on Christmas Day
ICC Note:
Pastor Nadarkhani, who was released from prison on September 8, 2012, was re-arrested on Christmas day, in a move that has been interpreted as a deliberate message against Christians in Iran. The lawyer who fought on his behalf has been disbarred and faces nine years in prison. Other Christians in prison in Iran include a 32-year-old U.S./Iranian Christian named Saeed Abedini and a 41-year-old pastor named Behnam Irani. Please pray for their release.
1/1/2013 Iran (Morning Star News)- An Iranian pastor freed from prison in September after nearly three years of detainment was re-arrested on Christmas Day in a move that human rights groups consider intentional harassment for rejecting Islam.
Youcef Nadarkhani, 35, had faced the death penalty for alleged “apostasy,” or leaving Islam, but in September a judge reduced the charge to evangelism and sentenced him to three years of prison, according to Present Truth Ministries (PTM). As he had already languished for two years and 11 months in Lakan Prison in Rasht, 243 kilometers (151 miles) northwest of Tehran, he was released on Sept. 8 and “bail was set for the security of someone’s paycheck,” according to PTM’s website.
On Christmas Day he was ordered to serve the remaining 45 days of his three-year prison sentence for evangelizing.
Those close to the case and Nadarkhani’s family said the re-arrest may also have served as a direct message for the pastor to leave the Islamic Republic, according to Jason DeMars of PTM.
“It appears that it is a move to harass him,” DeMars told Morning Star News. “Perhaps they want him to leave the country permanently.”
Under the new sentencing, Nadarkhani would be released on Feb. 8.
Rights groups say his incarceration is baseless, and they hope to apply enough international pressure on Iran to have Nadarkhani freed as soon as possible.
State officials arrested him on Christmas Day to send a deliberate message against Christians in Iran, Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice reportedly said.
“They believe Christianity is a crime against the state,” Sekulow said in remarks to Fox News. “They don’t like Christians in Iran, period, and they’re trying to exercise their authority.”
Nadarkhani’s original arrest resulted from arguing against the Islamic curriculum of his children’s school. He eventually faced the death penalty for apostasy, but charges against him were reduced after an international outcry from religious and human rights groups. A court had determined in September 2011 that he had never practiced Islam, but that he was guilty of apostasy anyway because his ancestors were Muslims.
The Iranian state has also targeted those that have offered legal assistance to Nadarkhani. His lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, was imprisoned in September for taking Nadarkhani’s case, in addition to other human rights cases.
He has been disbarred for 10 years and is facing a prison sentence of nine years, according to Sekulow. Dadkhah is in Evin Prison in Tehran, notorious for its brutal conditions and detainment of political prisoners.
As a pastor of the Church of Iran, which some Christian groups and Iranian churches consider non-Trinitarian, Nadarkhani is a controversial figure among Iranian Christians. Thy accuse him of being a modalist, a theological position asserting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are merely aspects of one God, contrary to traditional orthodox belief.
DeMars, however, said his theology has been unfairly characterized. Nadarkhani believes in the Trinity, but prefers the terminology of God existing in three modes instead of three persons, which he said is a distinction without a difference and in line with historical Christianity.
“I can speak with certainty about their beliefs, because I was previously and I’m still in contact with many people in the Church of Iran and those close to the family of [Nadarkhani],” De Mars told Morning Star News.

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