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Iran’s Supreme Leader to rule on Pastor Nadarkhani’s case

Country/Region: Iran, Middle East and North Africa

Barnabas statement on Nadarkhani case

The court that is reconsidering the verdict of condemned pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has referred the case to the country’s Supreme Leader, the ultimate political and religious authority in Iran.

Ayatollah_Ali_Hosseini_Khamenei_4X3.jpg
Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei,
Supreme Leader of Iran
GFDL by sajed.ir

Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei will now determine the outcome for Nadarkhani, who has been appealing against his death sentence for apostasy, which was formally issued last November.

His lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, said that it was unusual for a judicial case to be forwarded to the Supreme Leader and that he hoped the death sentence would be overturned in keeping with Iran’s international agreements.

The referral is likely to further delay the issuing of a written verdict, which had been expected within a week of Nadarkhani’s latest court hearing in Rasht at the end of September. At that trial, the father of two was asked on three separate occasions to renounce his faith in order to secure an annulment of the charge of apostasy and lifting of the death sentence, but he refused each time.

Contradictory statements

There have been confusing and contradictory statements from the Iranian authorities regarding the Nadarkhani case. They appear to be trying various tactics in response to sustained international pressure to overturn the death sentence and release him.

Youcef Nardakhani-4X3.jpg
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

In an apparent attempt to justify the penalty, fabricated charges were levelled at the pastor on 30 September by the deputy governor of Gilan province, where the trial took place; he said that Nadarkhani was a rapist, an extortionist, a Zionist and was guilty of “security-related crimes”, adding, “No one is executed in Iran for their choice of religion”.

Then on Monday (10 October) Iran’s Prosecutor General adopted a much more civilised approach. He denied that any verdict had been issued, saying that the case was “still at the investigation level and it’s open”. He added:

Of course the accused has the right to appeal at every level of the investigation but the inquiry about this case has not been finished.

Other death threats

Meanwhile, 11 Iranian Christians who fled the country in the wake of a government crackdown on the house church movement have been threatened by email with extra-judicial execution if they do not repent. The threats came from “the unknown soldiers of the Hidden Imam”, which are allegedly linked to the Iranian security services. They warned the Christians that although they had managed to escape from the country, they were not hidden from the “acute eyes of the unknown soldiers”.

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  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 6 hours ago

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

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  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

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