2011/10/01

Youcef Nadarkhani Refuses to Recant

Yousef is from Rasht, Gilan. He is pastor for a network of Christian house churches. He is married to Fatemah Pasindedih, and they have two children, ages 8 and 6.

Yousef was first imprisoned in December 2006, on the charges of apostasy from and evangelism to Muslims. He was released two weeks later, without being charged.

In 2009, Yousef discovered a recent change in Iranian educational policy that forced all students, including his children, to read from the Qur'an. After Youcef heard about this change, he went to the school and protested, based on the fact that the Iranian constitution guarantees freedom to practice religion. His protest was reported to the police, who arrested him and placed him before a tribunal on October 12, 2009, on charges of protesting.

The charges were later changed to apostasy and evangelism, the same charges he was initially arrested under in 2006. On September 21–22, 2010, Youcef appeared before the 11th Chamber of The Assize Court of the province of Gilan and sentenced to death for the charge of apostasy. Yousef's lawyer, Nasser Sarbaz, claims there were numerous procedural errors during Yousef's trial.

After conviction Youcef was transferred to a prison for political prisoners, and denied all access to his family and attorney. The delivery of Youcef's written verdict was delayed by Iran's security officials. Christians believe the delay in execution is an attempt by Iran's secret police to force Youcef to recant Christianity. wikipedia

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