Iran orders hanging of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani (JERUSALEM POST) By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 02/24/12)
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BERLIN – Despite the international outrage over the incarceration and
slated death penalty for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, Iran’s judiciary
has issued orders to hang the dissident Christian.
Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the Washington-based American
Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), said on Wednesday, “We are hearing
reports from our contacts in Iran that the execution orders for
Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may have been issued.”
Nadarkhani, now 34, was arrested in 2009 for questioning the
compulsory Islamic education of his children and for seeking to
register a home-based church. He was sentenced to death in 2010.
The ACLJ has closely monitored the case and has previously translated
Iranian legal documents.
Sekulow added, “It is unclear whether Pastor Youcef would have a
right of appeal from the execution order. We know that the head of
Iran’s Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, must approve publicly
held executions, but only a small percentage of executions are held
in public – most executions in Iran are conducted in secret.”
There has been a dramatic increase of executions in the Islamic
Republic over the last month, Sekulow said.
US President Barack Obama, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton
and the governments of Germany, Britain and France, have called on
the Iranian government to release Nadarkhani.
Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pennsylvania) drafted a resolution in Congress
demanding the immediate release of Nadarkhani and that the apostasy
charge be immediately expunged from the record.
“Iran has become more isolated because of their drive for nuclear
weapons, and the fundamentalist government has stepped up persecution
of religious minorities to deflect criticism. The persecuted are
their own citizens, whose only crime is practicing their faith,”
Pitts told FoxNews.com.
Small demonstrations across Germany have demanded that Iran not
execute Nadarkhani. In September, 400 protesters showed up in front
of the Iranian Consulate in Hamburg. Since October, there has been a
vigil every week in the northern port city to protest against the
Groups in Frankfurt and Berlin have also demonstrated.
A large event is slated for Easter in Hamburg in an effort to
influence the Iranian authorities. A petition for action has
collected 23,000 signatures calling for Iran to release the
ACLJ has launched a “Tweet for Youcef social media campaign.” Such
activities are “growing exponentially as Pastor Youcef’s situation
has become more dire,” the organization said. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 02/24/12)
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