Lawyer: Iranian Supreme Leader to weigh in on pastor’s execution
October 10th, 2011
11:35 AM ET

Lawyer: Iranian Supreme Leader to weigh in on pastor’s execution

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) –-  The possible hanging of an Iranian pastor, who may face execution for refusing to recant his Christian beliefs, reached the highest levels of the Iranian government over the weekend with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei being asked for his opinion on the possible death sentence.

Mohammad Dadkhah, attorney for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, told CNN that Nadarkhani was still alive and that the court has asked the highest religious leader in Iran for his input. Though Khamenei has the ultimate authority in Iranian affairs, the move is unusual for a case that was supposed to be decided Monday.

Nadarkhani, the leader of a network of house churches in Iran, was first convicted of apostasy in November 2010, a charge he subsequently appealed all the way to the Iranian Supreme Court. In an appeals trial last month at a lower court in Gilan province, Nadarkhani refused to recant his beliefs.

After the trial, however, reports by the semi-official Fars News Agency on September 30 indicated that the charges against Nadarkhani have since changed and the pastor is now charged with rape and extortion. "This issue has nothing to do with his abandoning his religion," reported Fars.

"He is a Zionist and has committed security-related crimes," Gholomali Rezvanii said in the Fars News report. Renvanii is the deputy governor of Gilan province, where Nadarkhani was tried and convicted.

In a 2010 Iranian Supreme Court brief obtained by CNN, the charge of apostasy is the only charge listed.

"He [Nadarkhani] has stated that he is a Christian and no longer Muslim," states the brief.

"During many sessions in court with the presence of his attorney and a judge, he has been sentenced to execution by hanging according to article 8 of Tahrir – olvasileh."

The case has drawn international attention, with governments from around the world, including the United States, Britain and France, issuing statements on the fate of the pastor.

Nadarkhani "has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for people," a White House spokesman said in a statement. "That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency and breaches Iran's own international obligations."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Interfaith issues • Iran

soundoff (955 Responses)
  1. jesus

    i love this. the murder of a man for his faith in a fictional worldview by a government whose legal framework is predicated on a fictional worldview. one should wring drops of humor from civilization's absurd tragedies wherever possible.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Guy Noir

      I'm sure you feel very clever and superior, but your narrow-minded hatred of religion causes you to miss the point of the thing. He is being murdered by a despotic government for failing to kow-tow to that oppressive system. It is a government founded on a faith that openly attempts to inflict obedience to its ways on all within its reach, and even without. It is an example that highlights the ruthlessness of their determination to kill all who disagree or oppose them.

      It's important, and it needs to be opposed loudly.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Tombraider

      Very well said.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  2. chad landon

    Take heart that the lord dos nothing without resin just as he showed us when he gave his son Jesus for our kind I say this as a man of a faith I do not call myself a cristine becase I think that that make me a follower of others beliefsand that is not me when god created me he made me a leader so I am as I said a beleaver in god all mighty so with that said I ll get to the point if this man dies for the faith he us take heart in the fact that it is gods will and his plan we may not know the reson but it is his plan and it is not our place to question gods resin or perpose we need only to be greatfull for the life he has given us and one day when we stand before our lord and savor at that point we will know and all be revealed and at that point all will be revealed remember god so loved the world that behave his only son for the sin of all mankind so that we might be forgive our lord loves us and does nothing without reson and god showed that when Jesus look to the havens and said father be there any other way take this cup from my hand and god allowed him to.suffer and die so in this take heart in that

    October 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Surprise

      Ramble much?

      October 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • PRISM - 1234

      @ Surprise....concerning Chad Landon's post...

      You see, friend, some will look for treasure and find it in most uncommon form or place .... But some will step over it, and never recognize what's under their feet... Chad's words are not in perfect English, but what he had written... the meaning of it, is much greater then of a post of a well worded writer.... Here it is the substance that counts! But you have not recognized it...

      Chad, God bless you, my brother!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  3. warex

    It is sad Iran is so third world still, It is sad about there human rights violation, it is sad the now have nukes, the country is just sad overall, where is the zombie Apocalypse when you need one.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  4. Peter

    Yep, ya gotta love these gutless arab/muslim/islam poofters. They hide under rocks and hide explosives under the dirt, strap bombs under their shirts etc. Have no guts what so ever. They sneak in the back door and smack you from behind, like a school girl. They have no honor, nothing to be proud of. It is our fault for not wiping the floor with them years ago...We come in the front door and send plenty of notice before we get there. They'll bury themselves if they keep this BS up, and if we get over being politically correct.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  5. Surprise

    And, why do we care? It is really THAT important to people in other countries? Why does the US give a sh** about some other country's religious BS?? It is honestly none of our business.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Kilroy

      It is absolutely our business, and we should be loudly condemning them. But our executive reserves his condemnations for Republicans and conservative news outlets.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  6. Ahmed

    He was asking for punishment
    He well knew the risk

    October 10, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Kilroy

      Muslims asked for punishment about a decade ago, and boy have we been punishing you.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Tombraider

      Knowing the consequences of an action and choosing the action anyway is not the same as asking for the consequences; your statement is as illogical as the Iranian government.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Surprise

      Umm, Kilroy...we haven't really been punishing them all that much. Guess what the fastest growing religion is in the world...Seems our wars have been having the opposite effect. That, or they are multiplying faster than rabbits...

      October 10, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Kilroy

      The growth isn't a result of the wars, but of oppression like we're seeing in this case, as well as in the abuse of the Coptics in Egypt (which our liberal press has been strangely quiet about). They have in fact been punished in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Their loud, ambitious leaders and the followers of those noisemakers have been dying for a decade, and will continue to do so.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  7. db

    WE too out Osama and we can take anyone out we want in Iran, including your supreme religeous leaders, president and you if we desire. Press us hard enough and we can and will do it.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  8. World Save this Man

    The comments I have read under this article is really disappointing of some thinking. Lets see now, Muslium cannot speak of Christian faith, but it is ok to speak Muslium faith to Christians. You think we are not in a religious war. This should make the entire world take notice and stand up for once. Iran is an evil empire and is set to destroy Christians because they believe differently. This man done nothing but say he is a Christian. The other charges were fabricated to get the worlds attention. No different than kidnapping the American Bikers, holding hostages. Man when are we going to stand up to this Hitler type of world. WORLD STAND UP AND SAVE THIS MAN OR PREPARE TO LIVE IN THAT KIND OF WORLD.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  9. Sassan

    WE must support the Iranian people in getting rid of this illegal and barbaric regime occupying the once great nation of Iran.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Guy Noir

      If the so-called "Arab Spring" couldn't motivate them to finally overthrow the regime, then I'm not sure what would.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Sassan

      This is not a lack of motivation, it is a regime that kills and kills...Iranians will soon rise again – during the next round of their fake elections in less than 2-years. Last time Obama was naively silent thinking that he could negotiate with this terrorist regime. I am confident that this time around that NATO and the international community will stand side-by-side with the Iranian people who demand nothing but true secular democracy. Iran is the only country in the region that offers hope for true secular democracy as we have experienced the evils of Islam in the most brutal of ways the last 30+ years.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  10. Halabi

    The Holy Koran states that it is lawful to execute those who reject Allah and his prophet, Mohammed (PBUH).

    This man spreads lies to defile Islam. You in the West have no right to criticize what is righteous in the eyes of Islam.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Guy Noir

      I'm thinking you're a troll...

      October 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • billwsu

      dude, what the heck are you talking about?!?!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Peter

      Up yours adbul! I know a good spot for your koran. What kind of religion promotes killing? No options, no freedom of choice. I suggest you take your flying carpet back home and hang with your own kind.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Tombraider

      If you kept your beliefs to yourselves, no one would "question" them. However, strapping bombs to the chests of religious "martyrs" in order to kill innocent people, including Muslims, strips you of your right to autonomy. Stay hot though.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • ahmed

      in the Quran it doesn't say that, it says that muslims should live peacefully with non-muslims. in fact during the time of the caliphs, they let non muslims live in their land choosing freely what to believe.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • wHAT A MESS


      October 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Nazarene

      Do you think it is OK to execute all Muslims in Western who converted from Christianity to Islam? Does not Islam says there is no compulsion in religion? Does Islam contradict itself?

      October 10, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • SaveYourself Now

      Just goes to prove our point that your religion is a MURDEROUS religion that does not take into account the innocence of those who should have the God-given freedom to worship as they please. You people are so backward and yet want to be accepted into mainstream society. That will Never happen until you change and bring Fairness, Compassion, and Love into your society! Repent Hal, while you still have time. Forget the lies you have been taught that only serve to hurt, maim, or kill innocent others. Find Jesus, the One *True God*, and Save yourself from Eternal damnation!

      October 11, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  11. Btx

    And on today's Judge Judy we have a guest judge, Ali Khamenei. Iran leadership is becoming a joke, and I've a tough time believing that the intelligentsia and business leaders will put up with it for much longer.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Colleen Moro

      The writing is on the wall. It's only a matter of time I think. Something has to give over there. It's hypocrisy to claim allegiance to God or in "their" case, Allah. To judge this man and condemn him for his right to believe in his faith is among the worst examples of trampling on human rights.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  12. Jesse

    1. What do you expect? it's Iran.
    2. This is supposedly also happening in Egypt, HA. Yea, those people have been under military rule since the leader was expelled. This drama is being created to make sure that the people of egypt are suppressed.
    Read between the lines you tools!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  13. Guest

    Adriana, You're right about the outrageous behavior of those who would kill someone over their supernatural beliefs, and a deluded miniion of the right-wing idiot if you think the picketing is over 'senseless' things. Sad!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  14. Bam Bam

    I know after a near death experience there is a much better place than this one !!!! You all better stop and think what awaits you when you have to answer to the all MIGHTY ... Believe me we all have to answer for our sins .... So take a look in th mirror and ask yourself do u like what you see ????

    October 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • speechless

      Lol....I'm a Christian...but that's some funny crap. So u nearly died and got to catch a glimpse of what? Why didn't u ask to stay there instead of coming back to this crap?

      October 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • PRISM - 1234

      If you are a Christian how can you make light of what BB said, calling it crap?!

      You must really have no clue!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  15. Guy Noir

    Where are all the Hollywood celebrities, making a stink to try to save this guy's life, as they did with the cop-killer who was recently executed in Texas?

    Strange contrast...

    October 10, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  16. Jeff W.

    Where is the so- called "christian president" Mr. Barack Hussain Obama? No, not in America! Not one word.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • Cwh

      You're a bigoted idiot.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Tombraider

      I was going to reply, but the person above me clearly has all (both) bases covered.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  17. Generics

    And Amadinejad tells the U.N. that everyone should follow Iran's world model...Iran is still a third world country, ruled by a third world president. What a disgusting country.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  18. fistface

    Muslims are just 1500 years behind the times is all....

    October 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • Guy Noir

      1400, but it's a small error.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  19. Jack

    They should just expel him and move the family to DC...

    October 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  20. Adriana

    One word, HORRIFIC!!! This HUMAN BEING is sentenced to death for what his beliefs are! What a disgrace of our own humanity! In the U.S. people are picketing Wall Street, for senseless things. Freedom does come with a price tag, folks! My goodness, now further backwards are we to go, before this madness ends??? I was not aware that to be born, we are to kill one another...

    October 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.