Youcef Nadarkhani, who converted from Islam, faces death by hanging. Critics say the move is a show of defiance over Western sanctions on Iran from France and the United States.
A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity, according to sources close to the pastor and his legal team.v
“The world needs to stand up and say that a man cannot be put to death because of his faith,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
“This one case is not just about one execution. We have been able to expose the system instead of just letting one man disappear, like so many other Christians have in the past.”
His lawyers appealed the decision under the premise that Nadarkhani was never a Muslim at the age of majority, and the case was sent to Iran’s Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court’s decision of execution, provided it could be proven that he had been a practicing Muslim from the age of adulthood, 15 in Islamic law, to age 19, which was when he converted.
The lower court then ruled that Nadarkhani had not practiced Islam during his adult life but still upheld the apostasy charge because he was born into a Muslim family.
The court then gave Nadarkhani the opportunity to recant, as the law requires a man to be given three chances to recant his beliefs and return to Islam.
His first option was to convert back to Islam. When he refused, he was asked to declare Muhammad a prophet, and still he declined.
Iran’s judiciary had delayed in issuing a final verdict, fearing the decision would have far-reaching political implications.