Dear Friends and Partners,
You may recall our recent alert concerning Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who was facing the possibility of imminent execution. Despite the fact that Pastor Nadarkhani has exhausted all possible legal appeals, and the death sentence could be carried out without warning at any time, he is still alive. While the situation is urgent, we have seen signs in the past few days that the government of Iran may be taking notice of the international advocacy on Pastor Nadarkhani’s behalf. Faced with the growing international outcry over this case, Iranian officials have attempted both to deny the existence of a death sentence and to add false charges against Pastor Nadarkhani to justify his detention and pending execution. The fact that the death sentence has not yet been carried out should inspire us to press on and maintain pressure on the Iranian government to reverse its course and release Pastor Nadarkhani.
Although he was arrested in 2009 after challenging the requirement that Christian students, including his own children, receive religious education in school, Pastor Nadarkhani has been sentenced to death for apostasy (leaving Islam) – as confirmed by the official verdict handed down by the Iranian Supreme Court in December 2010. In the latest development in this case, the court held hearings from September 25 to 28, during which Pastor Nadarkhani was repeatedly offered the opportunity to recant his conversion in return for a reversal of the death sentence. Despite the immense pressure of facing the death penalty, Pastor Nadarkhani was resolute in his refusal to renounce his Christian faith. As we write this report, the court has not officially reversed the conviction against Pastor Nadarkhani, which means that, in effect, the execution order could be carried out at any time.
It is critical that we continue to make our voices heard and call on our governments to intensify their efforts to secure Pastor Nadarkhani’s freedom and the safety of his family. Since our last alert, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have issued fresh statements expressing “concern” at the prospect of Pastor Nadarkhani’s execution. While we are grateful for this continued official recognition of the case on the part of both governments, it is imperative that our leaders issue strong and direct statements calling not only for a stay of the death penalty, but also for the immediate release of Pastor Nadarkhani and an official guarantee of his safety. Indeed, pressuring Iran to reverse the death sentence is not enough – all charges against Pastor Nadarkhani must be dropped and the security of his entire family against official and ‘unofficial’ reprisals must be assured.
The Iranian population is generally well-educated, young, and thirsty for freedom and progress. However, Iran’s hard-line Islamic leadership routinely adopts repressive and brutal tactics in order to suppress any movement it perceives as a threat to its firm grip on power. One of the most common targets of such measures is the Christian church, which has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. Indeed, it is commonplace for Christians, along with other religious minorities such as the Bahá’í, to be arbitrarily arrested and sentenced under a variety of charges. You may recall our report issued earlier this year about a systematic and widespread government crackdown against Christians, resulting in well over a hundred people being imprisoned since the end of 2010. Yet despite the apparent power of human authorities we have seen the power of your prayers and action in the case of Maryam and Marzieh – whose story we brought to you in 2009 – who are now safe outside of Iran.
Pastor Nadarkhani is in urgent need of our help.Please take a few moments from your day to stand with us as we stand with Pastor Nadarkhani and seek his freedom and justice in this case.
- For courage, faith, strength, and health for Pastor Nadarkhani as he faces the impending threat of execution. Pray that he would be encouraged and strengthened to stay true to his faith, in order that he might be a shining beacon of truth and the love of Christ both in a country desperately looking for light and throughout the whole world;
- For Pastor Nadarkhani’s wife, who has also spent time in prison for her faith, and their young children, that they would be courageous and strong in this time of trial. Pray especially that the children would not be negatively affected by this situation, but that it would strengthen their faith and courage and ignite in them the desire to join the struggle for freedom and truth in their country;
- That the Iranian government would reverse its course, drop the new false charges, and release Pastor Nadarkhani immediately and guarantee his safety. Pray that the authorities would stop persecuting Christians and converts and instead begin protecting and promoting the right and freedom of all Iranians to live and worship freely and contribute to their beloved homeland, and that they would govern their people with fairness and justice for the benefit of the entire country; and,
- For the Iranian people, that their thirst for truth and freedom would be filled and that they would be able to live and worship freely and find true peace and meaning in the Prince of Peace.
ACTION: The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
- To the Iranian ambassador or representative to your country demanding that Iran release Pastor Nadarkhani immediately, drop all charges against him, and guarantee his safety;
- To your Foreign Minister or Secretary of State, thanking them for their recent statements and insisting that they make Pastor Nadarkhani’s case a priority issue until he is released and his safety guaranteed, using every means at their disposal to secure his freedom and the safety of his family. Urge them as well to continue to make treatment of religious minorities in Iran a primary focus of foreign policy in the region; and
- To your Prime Minister or President directly, urging them to intervene in this urgent matter and use the full influence of their office to secure Pastor Nadarkhani’s immediate release and to obtain assurances regarding his safety and that of his family.
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at:
Remember that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.
Rev. Majed El Shafie President and Founder One Free World International El Shafie Ministries