Iran (MNN) — The U.S. resolution calling for the release of Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is now one step closer to a vote in the U.S. Senate.
Senate Resolution 385 was passed unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this past Tuesday, June 19.
When Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested in Iran on October 2009, it was on the charge of apostasy. Lindsay Vessey with Open Doors USA says that while the case has gone up and down, Nadarkhani remains steadfast behind bars. “He’s been in prison for well over a year, but he’s been told that if he recants his faith and returns to Islam, he will be released. But he’s not been willing to do that.”
Senate Resolution 385, drafted by Sen. David Vitter, R-LA “condemn[s] the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy.”
The resolution is partnered with House Resolution 556 which passed on a unanimous vote earlier this year. The Senate resolution was introduced the same day the House resolution passed.
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), an organization that fights religious discrimination, says this Senate resolution “could not come at a more important time with Pastor Youcef's attorney continuing to face imprisonment himself.”
Nadarkhani’s lawyer, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, is facing nine years of jail time after being sentenced with “acting against the national security.” Dadkhah has not been granted trial.
The clock is ticking for this resolution to go to the Senate for a vote before control switches hands in the upcoming election season. If the Senate resolution is not completely passed through all the systems and signed into recognition before a new Senate session begins at the end of the presidential elections, the resolution will start back again at square one.
Some may wonder whether a resolution from the United States can really make a difference in Nadarkhani’s case and call Iran to accountability. Vessey considers, “When the U.S. government speaks out, it does let the Iranian government know that they are being watched. And it also, I think, gives hope to those who are suffering persecution.”
Pray for Senate Resolution 385 to be put to a vote in the Senate quickly and pass through with little trouble. Pray for courage for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and his family, and for religious persecution in Iran to diminish in the face of the Gospel.