It seems that the ‘religion of peace’ doesn’t like competition. Since the ‘Arab spring,’ Coptic Christians are coming under increasing pressure in Egypt. There have been massacres reported across much of Sub Saharan Africa as Christians are purged. A couple of weeks ago Israel was reported to be struggling with an influx of refugees from Africa.
Now it is reported that an Iranian Christian Pastor has been given the option of recanting his faith or be executed. Iran has a particularly barbaric form of hanging where the victim is lifted off the ground by a crane, thus the neck is not broken, and death occurs from a slow form of strangulation:
The 32-year-old pastor, Yosef Nadarkhani, was arrested in October 2009 for apostasy because he objected to the teaching of Islam to Christian children at Iranian schools. He was sentenced to death by hanging late last year, a verdict that he appealed to Iran’s Supreme Court.
Late last month, the appeal appeared to have been granted, as his lawyer indicated to a news agency on July 3. But an Iranian human rights agency now says the ruling actually imposes the recant-or-die choice, according to CNSNews.com.
A U.S. State Department official issued a statement Wednesday expressing dismay at the prospect.
“While Iran’s leaders hypocritically claim to promote tolerance, they continue to detain, imprison, harass, and abuse those who simply wish to worship the faith of their choosing,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
“We join the international community in continuing to call on the Iranian government to respect the fundamental rights of all its citizens and uphold its international commitments to protect them.”
Now, it appears that the Gilan court will “question the defendant again in order to determine whether he believes in Islam or not. If he is a Muslim, Yosef Nadarkhani must be released. If it is determined that he is a Christian, he may repent from his faith. Otherwise, if he insists on his beliefs, the death penalty must be carried out,” CNSNews quotes the agency as saying.
And the advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide said, that, despite reports that the death sentence had been reversed, “in reality the Supreme Court appears to have added a precondition requiring him to renounce his faith, or face execution.”
Although Nadarkhani didn’t practice any faith before he became a Christian at 19, he was born to Muslim parents and Islamic law dictates that a child of Muslim parents is considered to be a Muslim.
Although apostasy is not an offense in the Iranian penal code, CNSNews reports that Iran’s constitution includes a clause demanding that, if a basis for a judicial ruling does not exist in the law, judges must turn to “reliable Islamic sources or a valid fatwa.”