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Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Christian Persecution - Middle East » Iran » Iran Pastor Refuses To 'Abandon' Christ; Execution Perhaps "Thursday"

By Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Correspondent

Yousef Nadarkhani faced death penalty

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani faced death penalty for "apostasy".

RASHT, IRAN (Worthy News)– A young pastor of Iran's largest house church movement has told an Iranian court he will not "recant" his faith in Christ despite facing execution as early as Thursday, September 29, for abandoning Islam, church sources said.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani of the Church of Iran was asked by the Gilan provincial court in the city of Rasht to "repent" ahead of his next hearing Tuesday, September 27. However Nadarkhani declined, according to comments obtained by BosNewsLife.

“Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?,” the 34-year-old church leader asked during his first hearing Sunday, September 25.

When the court told him to return “to the religion of your ancestors, Islam” Nadarkhani replied: “I can not.”

The Court said however that Youcef Nadarkhani, whose first name is also spelled as Yousef, has "Islamic ancestry" and therefore "must recant his faith in Jesus Christ," trial observers said.


Yet, fellow Christians following the trial described Youcef Nadarkhani as "being happy [with] his faith strong."

Sources within the Church of Iran said however they fear Nadarkhani may be hanged as early as Thursday, September 29, following the further two days of court hearings.

Though Nadarkhani's supporters were told the case will be send back to Iran's Supreme Court, they fear the provincial court will use a law, temporarily ratified by parliament, "to execute him as soon as Thursday," September 29, explained advocacy group Present Truth Ministries (PTM). "This law dictates what should be done with apostates, depending on what type of apostasy has been committed," said PTM Director Jason DeMars, who closely follows the case. "My sources tell me that [the court has been told] to give the 'apostate' three days to recant,  then execute him," he told BosNewsLife .


Section 6 – 225 of Iran's controversial legislation says “when a person's parents were Muslims at the moment they were trying to have a baby, and he or she converts to another religious without claiming to be Muslim, he or she is a national apostate,” DeMars added.

"Section 8 – 225 also states the procedure for handling a national apostate, explained DeMars. "The death sentence is the penalty for National apostate, but after the verdict is pronounced, he or she will be commanded to repent of what he or she has done…If he refuses to repent, he will be killed."

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who is married with two children, was detained in his home city of Rasht in October 2009 while attempting to register his church.

His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran, rights activists say.


He was initially charged with protesting, but charges against him were later changed to "apostasy" and "evangelizing Muslims" which carry the death sentence.

Nadarkhani was tried and found guilty of "apostasy", or abandoning Islam, in September 2010 and sentenced to death by the court in the city of Rasht.

In June this year the Supreme Court of Iran upheld Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s death sentence, but asked the lower court in Rasht, which issued the initial sentence, to "re-examine" whether or not he had been a practicing Muslim adult prior to converting to Christianity.

The written verdict of the Supreme Court’s decision included provision for annulment of the death sentence if Pastor Nadarkhani recanted his faith, trial observers said.


Although the court found that Pastor Nadarkhani was not a practicing Muslim adult, the court said he remains guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry.

Nadarkhani’s lawyer, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, told the court that the repeated demand for his client to recant his Christian faith violates Iranian law and its constitution.

The court reportedly replied that the verdict of the Supreme Court must be applied, regardless of the illegality of the demand.

Religious rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) told BosNewsLife that the death sentence for apostasy is not "codified" in the Iranian Penal Code.


"However, using a loophole in Iran’s constitution, the judges in Rasht based their original verdict on fatwas by Ayatollahs Khomeini, the “father” of Iran’s revolution in 1979," CSW said. Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, made the fatwas with Makarem Shirazi, currently the most influential religious leader in Iran.

If confirmed, Nadarkhani would be the first Christian to be officially executed in Iran for religious reasons in 20 years.

The last Iranian Christian convert from Islam executed by the Iranian government was Assemblies of God Pastor Hossein Soodmand in 1990.

However several other Christians, including at least six Protestant pastors, are known to have been assassinated by unknown killers in recent years, BosNewsLife established.


"CSW is calling on key members of the international community to urgently raise Pastor Nadarkhani’s case with the Iranian authorities," said CSW’s Special Ambassador Stuart Windsor.

"His life depends on it, and we have grave concerns regarding due process in this case, and also in that of his lawyer, Mr Dadkhah," Windsor explained.

The CSW official said the verdict handed down to Pastor Nadarkhani "is in violation of the international covenants to which Iran is a signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICPPR)," which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom to change one’s religion.

Windsor also said the trial against Youcef Nadarkhani violates article 23 of the Iranian Constitution which reportedly states that "no-one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”

Iranian officials have denied wrongdoing, saying they defend "Islamic values" in the strict Islamic country.

Church officials say there may be as many as 100,000 devoted Christians in the country and that Iran's leadership is concerned about the spread of Christianity.

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28 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • Mary Dinsmore
    27 September 2011 at 11:24 am - Reply

    For the Christian minister in Iran to possibly executed on  9/29 my prayers are with you.  I pray to Jesus will intervene if that be his will.  If the spread of Christianity in Iran does happen thank you my friend.  To all my friends on facebook, please pray that Jesus will intervene before Thursday.  We all know that Christ will return one day, so lets all tell as many people about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    • starr1
      27 September 2011 at 1:47 pm - Reply

      Yes, preach the word of God in season and out. The harvest is wipe, the labors are few. I always pray and look to tell some one about Jesus, I am not ashamed of the gospel of my Lord and savior Jesus  the Christ, he is Lord.  I cry for our brother, I cry because of the people blindness, I cry with joy because he will not take down to serve a faults god, he know Jesus, Lord let your will be done, save him like the three Hebrew men. Amen

    • heidifromoz
      27 September 2011 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      Sorry to be cynical, but did Jesus / God intervene when the Christians were being devoured in the Roman ampitheatres? Unlikely it will happen now, but at least his death will be quicker.

      • Brad Frame
        28 September 2011 at 12:41 pm -

        God saved Paul. He sent down angels to protect him after the outpouring of prayer. Sometimes God allows wickedness to prosper however to bring about greater good. His will might be accomplished and many might see his glory and truth by the death of this amazing man, much to our sadness.

      • Xavcorral
        28 September 2011 at 1:30 pm -

        part of Christianity is having the faith to know that God can intervene. but having the courage and humility to know that it may God's will to let him die a martyr.

      • T Douglas
        28 September 2011 at 1:49 pm -

        You are an agnostic person .  Yes God did intervene there were more that were to be put to death but were able to escape do to "unusual circumstances" I believe God intervention .  Quit trying to be so politicaly correct and just keep them in your prayers and thoughts ,unless you are one of those "peaceful Muslums".

        Just Say'n

  • Ernest
    27 September 2011 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    The "Religion of Peace" once again showing its well known peacefulness to the world. It’s an ugly fact!

  • Jenny Ward
    27 September 2011 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    Islam- submit or die.

  • Anonymous
    28 September 2011 at 7:35 am - Reply

    I am proud of your faith Youcef.

  • Dilana
    28 September 2011 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    The followers of satan will always be loyal to him and kill the people who are faithful in Jesus' Name.
    As Christians, we know those who deny Jesus as the Son of God or speak against Him are anti-christ. Many anti-christs are there and will be born in this world. But we as true children of God, let's pray that under all circumstances our love, faith n belief in Jesus Christ our Lord will never diminish even at the cost of one's death. Well, surely, although proud about pastor Yousef's strong faith in Jesus and ready to die, as his brothers n sisters in Christ, all we can do is only pray to God to help him to be released or to welcom him into heaven. Whatever, the Will of God will be done. But, the culprits, killers, enemies of God will have their own dooms day soon. Get ready to enter into the gates of 'hell'…..or you better repent, transform and seek Jesus' forgiveness and embrace Him before it's toooooo late. He is the only true living God, who is loving, merciful and caring.
    Jesus is the Lord…now n forever. Now n forever…Jesus is the Lord. Amen!!!

  • Lkblakely
    28 September 2011 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    My heart and prayers go out to Yousef his family, church and all the other persecuted Christians in Iran. Why is our government not publicly demanding Iran release this man?There is no tolerance for people who are not muslim in this so called peaceful way of life.  If we were about to execute a muslim the whole world would be rioting. Why can so many injustices be over looked when it comes to Chrisitians? I believe it is because Jesus Christ is the way the truth the life, and no man comes to the father unless he comes through belief in his son. It is true that evil and the forces of darkness really rally to stop or prevent people from coming to know the truth and receive true life now and for ever.If Christianity were not a threat, than there would be no bother in trying to silence those who believe. I pray for God's peace and his protection and deliverance for this young pastor and that the spread of the truth will not be silenced. If he is martyred for the sake of Christ, the truth willl not be suppressed.

  • Wagz
    29 September 2011 at 6:52 am - Reply

    How can it be a crime to be a Christian…a crime punishable by death????? What a shame. They did it to Jesus first…and all around the world his followers are still persecuted…yet not even death can separate us from the all-consuming Love of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior of the whole world.

  • Calum Price
    29 September 2011 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Jesus is with you, Yousef Nadarkhani. Do not give up the fight against evil!

  • Froggylaurie
    29 September 2011 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    I pray that faced with the demand to denounce Jesus Christ as my Lord & Saviour, I will have the courage & strenght as this young pastor to refuse! Pray for him & his family! (Though his reward shall be great in Heaven should he die for Christ Jesus)

  • Deocariza
    29 September 2011 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    Does anyone know how we can help this guy?

    • Lucy Arnold
      30 September 2011 at 7:52 am - Reply

      jeremiah 33v3……..pray hunny and believe in the unseen and not the seen ,,our God is an awesome God!!amen

    • Peveperkins
      3 October 2011 at 8:50 am - Reply

      No but I know "with God all things are possible"…pray pray pray in the name of JESUS

  • fabien
    29 September 2011 at 10:30 pm - Reply
  • William Sama
    30 September 2011 at 5:05 am - Reply

    Thanks   Pastor   we  are  praying  for the churches  in Iran  to have  much  peace and  unity of the  Holy spirit  may  God Keep  you and  release  you  from hands of your  enemies  from  Iran .  God  of   is   Israel  Keep  you safer  during  the  hard time  that  your   facing   Ga int  death,  no  weapons  formed  a against  shall  proffer.  in the  name of Jesus.Read  : Isiah  54 :4  may  God bless  you  man  of  God have  faith , yours  in Christ  Pastor   William.

  • Lucy Arnold
    30 September 2011 at 7:36 am - Reply

    father God of all creation ELOHIM…..in the name of jesus your son i
    command the hand of the tyrant to be loosed off of Pastor Youcef
    Nadarkhani !!!!!! surround him and his loved ones with your PEACE and
    presence…..glorify your name EMMANUEL
    God who is with us ,,shalom,PRINCE of peace be with them all….mighty
    God who is MIGHTY TO SAVE we call on you ,deliver YOUCEF FROM EVIL in
    JESUS name ,use that court of ungodly law like you did the
    donkey…..SPEAK through them ABBA FATHER and set this captive free amen

  • Lucy Arnold
    30 September 2011 at 7:52 am - Reply

    father God of all creation ELOHIM…..in the name of jesus your son i
    command the hand of the tyrant to be loosed off of Pastor Youcef
    Nadarkhani !!!!!! surround him and his loved ones with your PEACE and
    presence…..glorify your name EMMANUEL
    God who is with us ,,shalom,PRINCE of peace be with them all….mighty
    God who is MIGHTY TO SAVE we call on you ,deliver YOUCEF FROM EVIL in
    JESUS name ,use that court of ungodly law like you did the
    donkey…..SPEAK through them ABBA FATHER and set this captive free amen

  • Lucyarnold
    1 October 2011 at 2:53 am - Reply

    this is a brand new day we will rejoice and be glad in it!!!! there is power in praise amen!!  father God i thank you that
    your name is above every other name…every knee shall bow and evey
    tongue confess jesus Christ IS lORD!!! YOU have already 'pardoned
    youcef…..let us see the manifestation of this in the natural

  • Disgusted, South Africa
    1 October 2011 at 6:56 am - Reply

    This [Iran death-sentence of a Christian-pastor] once again serves to confirm the growing universal suspicion that ISLAM makes people virulently insane.  By the way, why is my government [the South African Government], the so-called champion of 'human rights', so silent on this issue?  Jesus taught people to LOVE and be KIND to their enemies, whereas Mohammed teaches people to HATE and KILL their enemies.  Come on guys, which voice here is the voice of reason, integrity and sanity … Jesus or Mohammed?  The voice [and religion] of unreason and hatred will not rule this Earth … the wages of sin is DEATH. 

  • File_198
    4 October 2011 at 11:21 am - Reply

    well Im a muslim and if i have to be honest….i support his execution no matter what

    • Kathy S.
      6 October 2011 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      If executed he will be in heaven. Christians are not afraid to die. We know the truth and it has set us free. I pray for you, for you are blind and pathetic and full of hate as is your false God. I pray that the Prince of Peace (Jesus) will intervene and save this righteous man from death…. If not he will live in eternity in a mansion that God has built for him…. Where will you go when you die???  Pray for wisdom and God will give it to you……The Bible says: (Speaking of Jesus) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Act: 4:12

    • Joeplanman
      24 February 2012 at 1:37 am - Reply

      F–k a bunch of muslims!!!!!! May they all burn in hell.
      They will get theirs.

  • Katsu5417
    6 October 2011 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    Islam is the most hateful religion on the planet. It's followers are responsible for the horrific torture and murders of millions of men woman and children all over the world.  I am proud to be a believer of Jesus Christ who requires that we love our enemies and tells us to pray for them. These people are clearly blinded by Satan and desperately need to know the true God of the Bible.  Their god requires the blood of infidels. Jesus shed his blood for all mankind.

  • Joshemi2002
    4 March 2012 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    They can kill Youcef body but not spirit

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