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. J

    Everyone involved here is an idiot imo. Arguing over which invisible sky daddy is the right one . . .

    October 10, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • bilbo baggins

      I have not read one intelligent post on this page.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  2. Emelia

    Why do we even read the bible? The original myths are so much more intreguing anyway. It's pretty obvious the bible was based off of Greek mythology... Let's play "who can spot ten similarities between Dionysus and Jesus"! =D Or Demeter and Mary, anyone? Eden and Dionysus' grotto. Between the bible and the mythology, the parallels are so many, it isn't even funny. It can be tracked historically, too. Frankly, I just don't find the bible credible at all.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Rich

      *Have* you read it? Lots of people have strong opinions about a book they've never read. I'm just wondering if you're one.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Dont be that guy

      @ Emelia
      CLEARLY you've taken the online version of religion studies. Art historians who spend their entire lives studying ancient history and religion can attest to the thousands of differences between Christianity and the mystery religions of Egypt, Greek, and Rome. If you want to do some hard work and read a book rather than someones website you will see what I mean. For example, most of the "resurrections" in greek mythology did not refer to an individual sacrificing themselves for the good of mankind, but were stories to explain the change in season and how fall=death and spring=life. You've probably never been to church, but Christians don't put their faith in the resurrection of Jesus because they are sad the winter is here and hope for the spring to come. If that is what you think, you have a long long long road ahead of studies.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Lee

      Rich, I've read much of it and I find it a bit, ahhh, shall we say difficult to believe? And how do you suppose Emelia knows the similarities between mythology and the bible if she hasn't at least read part of it.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  3. jack spratis

    Just deport him out of the country and then ban his return – no hanging unless he were to return.Make it his choice !

    October 10, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • John John

      That is probably what they will do if they are smart. Hmmmm well.... they might not do that now that I think about it.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  4. gotmelooknup

    After all is said and done...at the end of the day...he has not denounced what he believes...(ie Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) and not complaining about dying for it either...even those who persecute him gotta get with that...

    October 10, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  5. Faiyu

    It's all God's will.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • stilllearning66

      I do not believe that we experience God's perfect will in all situations. We live in a fallen world.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  6. sofra

    He does not have to die, Jesus did that, even for you – Ali Khamenei

    October 10, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • John John

      Actually, Jesus died because he was bad for the economy. The "Dying for your sins" thing was added a few centuries later.
      In the end it is all about power and money. Remember Jesus is a MYTH, not a fact. The guy probably existed, but the rest is just a made-up power play by the church goobs that followed.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Church Goob

      Hey! Our power plays aren't made up! They are for really, really, REALLY real! Just asked the people we burned at the stake! The stories we tell in an attempt to legitimize all this, well, let's just say that we get "inspired by the Holy Spirit" in whatever way we need to get "inspired by the Holy Spirit" at JUST the right time regularly! If that's not validation, what is?

      October 10, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Veritas

      John John, get your facts straight. "The gospel is that Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and then He was resurrected on the third day.1Cor 15:3-4 . The book of 1 Corinthians was written by St. Paul while he was in Ephesus between A.D. 53-57. There are surviving manuscripts that date back to A.D. 175, Jesus Himself says, "For God so loved the world that he GAVE his one and only son that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but would have everlasting life." John 3:16. The Gospel of John was written around A.D. 75 with surviving manucripts from A.D. 125. Therefore your claim that Jesus did not die for our sins was not incorporated into Christian belief until 300 years after Christ is totally inaccurate and is not born out by the historical texts. People have been trying for 2000 years to discredit Christianity and have Christianity still stands. You will be long gone and the Christian Church will still endure. It has survived persecution, mockery, heresy, and scientific scutiny and it will continue to survive. The fact of the matter is Jesus Christ was the son of God who came into the world and died for the sins of the world and then was raised from the dead on the third day. All who believe in him shall have everlasting life.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  7. Long Shot Mcgee

    If by some miracle from Allah some judge from the Iranian high courts is reading this, just give me a moment of your time. It's true that you can control the population of your country by attempting to control with fear and propaganda. China is doing about the best job out of the countries that do this. So in short it can be done. However it's totally unnecesary. You need to look no further than the protest going on in the United States right now. There are many thousands of people protesting something they don't fully understand. And because of their lack of education on this nothing meaningful will ever come from it. My point is the American government doesn't need to control information like you do, because their system of propaganda is advanced to the point that it allows people to believe they are free. You're
    living in a time that's passed you by. Let your people choose their religion, let them have acces to cnn.com and twitter. It doesn't matter. You can create a system that is so complex that no one group can figure it out. That my friend is true control. So in closing, let the preacher go, by doing what your doing you are just empowering the people that will take your government by force one day, ie Egypt. Let them have whatever they want, because when it all come down to it, they don't end up wanting much. Join us in the 21st century Judge. I'm more confusing here but at least we're heading in the somewhat right direction.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  8. Nasser

    If Khamenei sets him free, 99.99% of Iranians will quit Islam the next day and leave Islam and force mollahs out of office and out of business ending their centuries onl stanglehold on Iranians. For those of you who don't know, Islam was forced on Iranians after barbarian Arab tribes leveled our cities. Since the above action by Khamanei would spell the end of his regime and throw it into the trash heap of history, he's going to let the mollah courts order stand. In effect he's going to do to Nadarkhani what Romans had Rabbis do to Jesus. Either way, Khamanei and his mollah are doomed. At the end of the day, they'll be burried in the sand of time like all their predecessors.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • I_get _it

      Yes, Persia has such a long and rich history (although not always peaceful, by any means). It is sad that it has turned into what it is at the present.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • cat5fred

      A good, intelligent post. Thank you for educating, at least this neophyte reader.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  9. C.A. Poole

    The courage of Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani is just what Jesus expects of us. Sadly, it is this abuse of a man's free will to choose how he will exercise his faith that gives Islam a bad name.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  10. oldthudman

    Hum!....Maybe we should do that to the Muslums if they don't convert to Christianity...................Oh Yea, we don't do that in all of North America.......
    You can believe what ever you want here.............

    Is that what they mean when they(the Iranians) call us decadent?

    October 10, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  11. History Buff

    Iran will soon have nuclear weapons unless the West does something serious about it. Then we can all die because of our religious and political beliefs.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  12. Miklos

    Pray for this man for his strength and courage because of his love for Jesus Christ

    October 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • George


      October 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  13. Actually...

    If this man dies for his faith he will be like a seed falling to the ground and from it Christianity will abound even further. God bless this man and give him strength to be steadfast.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • John John

      Bwaaaaa hahahaha !
      When he dies he will be dead. That's how it works. Didn't work for Jesus to believe, and it won't work for him. Made up resurrection myths by primitives aren't gonna do the trick, and neither does praying. Only politics can save the goob.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Jon

      Its funny how someone started using the word "myth" to insult Christianity. Suddenly every atheist follows and uses that word. Way to think on your own atheists. I know there are atheists who have used critical thinking but 99.9% of the ones I've met regurgitate any phrase or argument they've heard from someone else. Use your brain for once atheist!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • LookAndSEE

      The blood of the Martyr is seed for the Church. Wait and see.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • A theriiouth mythunderthtanding

      People have been using the term 'myth' to describe ludicrous ancient religious lore like that found in the bible for centuries. It's not a new fad.

      Christians are so sensitive about being called a pack of ignorant rubes, but then keep coming up with posts like this one. It's just hilarious.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • Jon

      A theriiouth mythunderthtanding. You think being a smart mouth is going to change anyone's mind? Oh you find that I don't think like you as hilarious? Its true you do think for yourself. No body told you to be a intolerant and ignorant of anything outside your world. You became that on your own because you are a sad human being. I have respect Atheists who practice tolerance of other people's beliefs. However I do not have respect for people like you. Do you really get satisfaction for persecuting people for what they believe in? You are one pathetic human being if you do.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  14. ari

    it's sad that the only reason he's still alive is because the international media happened to catch wind of his case. i wonder how many iranians have died for idiotic reasons like this, without us in the west ever hearing about it. i hope this guy gets released soon and then gets the hell out of iran.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  15. Rebecca

    One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And this man will either be doing it from the heavens or here on earth when Christ appears in the clouds. Every man knows that he is guilty before a Holy God. You can scoff, you can call yourself an atheist, you can mock, you can throw stones. Go ahead. But you know, deep in your soul, that you will one day stand before the Lord – saved or not. Have mercy, Lord Jesus.

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


      October 10, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Ryan

      Please finish what you were writing with "just kidding" LOL ; )

      October 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • John John

      So you think the Jesus MYTH is better than the Muhammad MYTH? Wake up, it just fantasy. This guy is willing to die for his fantasy at the hands of a bunch of morons that believe a different FANTASY. There is no magic giant in the sky... that MYTH is invented by primitive man to explain what small minds cannot hope to understand; SCIENCE. Read a book for pity's sake.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Rob

      You are neurotic if that's the kind of post you like to make on CNN forums. Its people like you that push people away from becoming a Christian– learn to think for yourself, it doesn't go against faith to do so. In fact, I think God would be happy you did.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Gadflie

      Rebecca, you have a vivid fantasy life.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Jon

      Don't listen to these retards mocking your faith. They are no different than the leaders of Iran. They want to oppress your right to choose religion by bullying you to their side. Sorry atheists calling a someone an idiot isn't a very good argument.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Rob

      Noone called her an idiot and I am not an athiest. I think people who get delusional to the point that they believe that God answers their prayers and that angels come down and influence their day to day lives, and who talk all bubbly headed about Jesus as if they are plugged into some virtual reality machine- push people away from a religion that has a lot to offer in its true and intended form. That's what I think- not an idiot, more like a drug addict. People like her use religion the same way a crack head uses a rock.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • nonterrorist

      Reply to JohnJohn: She has read a book - it's called the Bible.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Jon

      So Rob you're saying anyone who speaks of Jesus automatically pushes people away from Christianity? So in order to have a relationship with Jesus, I must keep it a secret or people will think I'm stupid and run to another faith or philosophy? How can you not be an atheist if you can't express or believe in your faith?

      October 10, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • I_get _it


      Wise words... I hope they are heeded.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Rob

      Expressing your faith in a relatable and sensible fashion is the way you should express your faith-not end of world crazy street preacher style which makes you sound like you are detached from all reality. The way we are talking now for example not by claiming "You shall all bow down to Jesus on judgement day!! blah blah blah:" It turns people away and it is a propagation technique employed only by weak minded people to scare other weak minded people into faith instead of having them reach faith through a real and meaningful way. It creeps people out and makes them not want to open their mind to the idea of Christianity. THAT is my point. Expressing your faith and sounding as if you think you are God's spokesperson are VERY different things.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Rob

      Its all about the audience too, i'm sure if she talks like that in her prayer group it wouldnt necessarily sound like she is a detached creepy robot but saying that in a very diverse and mixed audience does not lay a bridge of understanding and openness down. Does that not make sense?

      October 10, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Bully For Us!

      Ridiculing someone's ridiculous beliefs is not at all the same as executing someone for holding ridiculous beliefs, Jon. You Christians gotta get over your martyr complex!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Jon

      Bully For Us. Martyr complex? I don't see how this is relevant to anything I've said already.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  16. Bam Bam

    I was given a choice because my experence was on my sons 17th birthday as peaceful as it was I chose not to be selfish and let my son remember the rest of his life his parent died on his birthday ..... Call yourself christians when are we all going to act like it and yes I said we !!!! No more comments from me people are too cruel !!!!

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

      So who gave u the option of a choice? Who did u talk too? And y didn't Lazarus get a choice?

      October 10, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  17. canada

    I think a man is going to get killed.
    He is not "musalman" as Iranian say.
    what is he believing on?
    so you see my point
    strong Christian beliefs and culture that supporting to die for it.
    I don't see anything but good in her even a man is dying
    we all should learn from this
    this the the story of having balls i correct that BALLS.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  18. Jason

    This pastor is showing strength little seen by our American culture – strength in weakness. Jesus did not overthrow the Romans; the love and sacrifice of those after him transformed the empire. We should be praying, not only for this man, but for his captors as well.

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

      I know Americans are weak willed. I've seen people bullied into atheism with the mentality that if I don't convert to atheism I'll be made fun of. Its 2011 already. When will bullying stop. Atheists feel free to believe what you want. I'm not going to mock you or attack your intelligence with poor arguments. People need to stick to their guns instead of caving in to what the masses demand of you.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Rob

      I've seen families bully their children and family members into Christianity too, what's your point? Faith needs to be a personal decision and something you find during your own seeking.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Jon

      Rob my point is exactly that. Don't use bullying as a tactic to get people to believe like you. Quit putting words in my mouth. I never said Christians don't do the same thing. Rob being argumentative like this is silly. You seem like you want to argue for the sake of it. Even if someone agrees with you, you feel like you need a counter with a rebuttal. Just think before you start disagreeing with yourself. Nothing worse than a self-hating Christian. If you feel that way I say please be an atheist. You'll stop fighting with yourself if you do at least.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  19. ChristianConvert

    Just remember, if you go hiking in Iran, fee is $500,000 and if you convert, you get hanged. I hope this dude gets out of Iran and get his own show on CBN.


    October 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  20. warex

    One zombie smack dab anywhere in the middle east, the rest will be taken care of......

    October 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
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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.