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November 24, 2010

Iran: Pastor Charged—Apostasy

Screen shot 2010-11-24 at 12.33.01 PM The Assize Court of the province of Gilan, in Iran, has officially charged Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani with denying that Mohammed was a prophet. The court stated that this resulted in apostasy because Nardarkhani believes in Jesus and has shared his faith with others, according to The Voice of the Martyrs.

The indictment, which was issued by a public prosecutor in the presence of a jury, stated, “He has frequently denied the prophet hood of the great prophet of Islam and the rule of the sacred religion of Islam. ... He has proven his apostasy by organizing evangelistic meetings and inviting others to Christianity, establishing a house church, baptizing people, expressing his faith to others and denying Islamic values.”

According to court documents, when Pastor Youcef was asked about his faith, he told authorities, “Since I was born in a Muslim family, I was Muslim until I converted to Christianity at the age of 19.” He openly acknowledged accepting Jesus Christ.

The court also stated that the apostasy charge was determined a crime according to Islamic theologians.

Pastor Youcef’s defense attorneys have entered a not guilty plea to the charges, arguing that “since there is no punishment specified in the Islamic judicial system of Iran and other penal laws [on apostasy] ... their client has not committed a crime to deserve a punishment.”

The indictment, however, stated that as an apostate, Pastor Youcef will be executed. His lawyers have 20 days to appeal the indictment. The Voice of the Martyrs encourages you to continue praying for Pastor Youcef and his family. Pray that his appeal will be successful and that he will be released.

To learn more about Pastor Youcef, visit www.prisoneralert.com.