Status of Iranian pastor is in question

By March 27, 2012

Iran (MNN/ASN) — A well-known publication recently wrote an article stating that Iranian authorities claim Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will not be executed. Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries (www.presenttruthmn.com) which has been following Nadarkhani's case, says that "while this appears to be great news, we cannot trust it."

According to Assist News, DeMars says, "We have documented many instances that Iranian media and government authorities have lied about this case to the public. They have recently acknowledged that Nadarkhani is charged with Christian activities but [authorities] continue to deny that he has been convicted of apostasy."

"We have copies of his written verdict that can easily be found online stating that his only charge is apostasy. In addition, his attorney, Mr. Mohammed Dadkhah, has clearly stated that the only charges levied against his client are apostasy," DeMars said.

DeMars added that Iran wants Nadarkhani's case to disappear from the news so that they can do as they wish with him, but "we will not forget, and we will keep praying and working until he is released."

There also have been rumors circulating once again that Youcef was executed, says DeMars. "These rumors are completely false. We are thankful to be able to confirm that as of March 16, Youcef was still alive. Keep praying and spreading the word to everyone you know; ask your friends and your pastors to do the same."

Meanwhile, a Twitter campaign on behalf of Pastor Nadarkhani has reached one million people worldwide, according the Christian Post.

Pastor Nadarkhani preached to a congregation of 400 before he was arrested by authorities in Oct. 2009. Now the story of his standing for Christ against enormous odds reaches far and wide around the globe.

An online article by Katherine Weber for the Christian Post states that the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has been at the forefront of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's court case, and the group's many endeavors–namely its "Tweet for Youcef" campaign and congressional petition–have seen substantial results.

The article says those who sign up for the "Tweet for Youcef" campaign allow the ACLJ to use their Twitter accounts to post a daily Nadarkhani update, which includes the number of days Nadarkhani has been imprisoned, facts about his court case, and a link back to the ACLJ's Nadarkhani information page.

Since the campaign began in mid-February, it has gained a substantial following, now reaching 1.1 million Twitter users per day in 89% of the world's nations, the Christian Post (CP) reported. Of those nations, 35 are mostly Muslim populated or governed by some form of Shariah law — including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, and Libya, the ACLJ told CP via an e-mailed statement.

"The ability for people all over the world to express their support for Pastor Youcef is remarkable. We're delighted that the 'Tweet for Youcef' campaign expanded so quickly, reaching one million Twitter accounts daily — truly an important milestone," Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ, told CP. "But we're not stopping there. The number now exceeds 1.1 million — a vital tool in providing information, support for Pastor Youcef, and pressure on Iran to release him without delay."

The Christian Post goes on to report that celebrity icons have pledged their support for Nadarkhani using the ACLJ's "Tweet for Youcef" campaign. On March 1, Matt Hasselbeck, NFL quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, tweeted his support for the Iranian pastor.

Donald Trump, Megyn Kelly, Actress Julie Benz, Michelle Malkin, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Ann Coulter have also tweeted their support for the ACLJ and Nadarkhani.

Actress Patricia Heaton from "Everybody Loves Raymond" has signed up for the "Tweet for Youcef" campaign, allowing the ACLJ to use her Twitter account to post Nadarkhani tweets, providing information on his imprisonment and how viewers can do more, the Christian Post article stated.

"We're grateful that a number of high-profile individuals — including those in the business, media, sports and political worlds — want to help spread the word about Pastor Youcef's plight," Sekulow told CP.
"It's clear that this social media campaign transcends all boundaries — geographic, political and ideological — all joining together with one goal in mind: to stand up for human rights and religious freedom, and demand the release of Pastor Youcef immediately and unconditionally," Sekulow added.

The ACLJ also successfully issued a petition to free Nadarkhani, gaining 189,000 signatures in just two weeks. The petition called on Congress to pass House Resolution 556, which condemned Iran for its human rights violations and demanded Nadarkhani's immediate release. The Resolution was passed March 1.

Jordan Sekulow traveled to Brazil recently to raise awareness for Nadarkhani's plight. There, he spoke with Brazil's Vice President Michel Temer, who promised that the Brazilian government will continue to stand in solidarity with Nadarkhani.

Although the ACLJ has confirmed that Nadarkhani was alive as of March 3, there has been no further information on the state of his execution order, which is believed to have been issued in late February.

 

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