As Christians around the world pray and wait for word about the fate of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani (photo), the Obama administration has added its voice to those demanding that the Iranian government release the Christian minister, who was sentenced to death last year for refusing to renounce his faith.
On February 23, the U.S. State Department said that it was “deeply concerned” over the death sentence that Iran’s Islamic government had issued against the pastor because he had refused repeated demands to deny his Christian faith. “Such government persecution for simply following one’s faith is common in Iran, where followers of many religious traditions face harsh treatment and severe violations of their religious freedom,” said State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner. “We stand with religious and political leaders from around the world in condemning Youcef Nadarkhani’s conviction and call for his immediate release.”
On February 21 Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a conservative legal group working to secure Nadarkhani’s freedom, said that his group had received news out of the country that Iran may have issued an execution order for Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned since October 2009.
“As of today, we cannot confirm that Pastor Youcef is alive,” said Sekulow. “The news out of Iran is not encouraging. With Iran now dominating international headlines because of its military actions, it’s clear Iran may have decided to move forward by issuing an execution order, knowing that the world’s attention is focused elsewhere right now.”
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