Court verdict on Iranian pastor issued soon

By October 10, 2011

Iran (MNN) — The plight of Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani could come as early as today. Nadarkhani was charged and convicted on apostasy charges and could face the death penalty. Some have called Nadarkhani a member of a cult. However, that's irrelevant in this case.

Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs says, "Clearly, in the eyes of the Iranian government, this is a case where they're attacking someone, persecuting someone for being a Christian, and the repercussions of that could sort of filter out into other Christian groups as well."

While Mission Network News has been talking about this case for a couple of years, Nettleton says the world is just now waking up. "Secular media organizations have covered it. U.S. government officials–including the White House–have spoken out about it. Other officials in other countries have spoken out on his behalf. And the Iranian government has responding by hedging on what the charges actually are against him."

First, Pastor Nadarkhani was charged with apostasy. However, now the press is talking about him being a rapist and a Zionist, which Nettleton says appears to be in response to the international pressure.

Nettleton says this could come to an end soon. "We really expect some kind of a verdict from the local court within the next couple of days. The reality is: it could happen at any moment."

But why is this happening? Nettleton thinks he knows. "The government of Iran is petrified by the growth of the church in Iran. They are shocked and appalled at the amount of people leaving Islam to follow Jesus Christ. I think there is an element of: 'We need to make an example of this guy.'"

Iran used to ignore Christianity. Now, "the government news agencies report on the raids of house churches; they report on the arrests of Christians. We have seen the supreme leader in his Friday sermon talk about the growth of the house church and what a great threat that is."

While they want to make an example of Nadarkhani, Nettleton says, "What they weren't quite expecting is the international outcry that has arisen. And I think that may have caused them to have second thoughts."

If you'd like to send a letter to Pastor Nadarkhani and government leaders, go to PrisonerAlert.com.

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