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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. RB

    Islam was founded on war and bloodshed. Its prophet came with the sword to kill the sword. The only reason Islam exists is because of it. In Islam you sign your name on the dotted line with your own blood. In Christianity God died for you.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  2. skarphace

    This makes me thankful that we have freedom of religion in this country, and makes me more determined not to vote for any candidate that does not believe the First Amendment's intention of the separation of Church and State.

    What do you get when you mix politics with religion? A political system like Iran's.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  3. sushiel brown

    ISLAM IS PIGS WORLD OF SATAN>...dont afraid to die IN THE NAME OF CHRIST he is the final judge of all not this blood suckers Islam....pie on them and their GOD SATAN....

    October 11, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  4. Nataly

    Yes we will be praying for our brother in christ.. The Lord is giving him the strength to endure this persecution.. and as someone who dies for the sake of the gospel shall be given the crown of Glory... But those who are spiritually dead not born again do not or cannot understand the Joy that believers have in the Lord Jesus Christ and that our lives here on earth is but a vapor and that our true home is in Heaven.. I Pray for this pastor that he would have the strength to preach the Gospel to these demonic sinful men and that the word of God will pierce the souls of these men for the word of God never returns void.. I pray that the lord will open there eyes and that these people would repent and believe in the true and living god an that God would reveal too them of there false worship too this false God ALLAH as it clearly says it is another Gospel and another Gospel is called doctrines of demons. GTY ORG

    October 11, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  5. Sassan

    As an Iranian I say please save this man. But the bigger picture is that the only reason he is alive right now is because of international pressure. Imagine the number of innocent Christians, Jews, and Bahais in prisons in Iran simply because of their beliefs and they have no voice. How many of them have already been executed? How about an atheist like me? As an Iranian and an atheist I would be condemned to death. This is truly the most barbaric regime in the world and we must assist the Iranian people who demand complete secular democracy away from the evils of Islamic rule.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Michelle

      I agree with everything you say here – and you might think you are atheist but perhaps the Iranian beliefs have effected you and prohibited you from having an open heart to a God who is real, kind and loving.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • Sassan

      IT is true , the Islamic Republic allows one to see the true nature of religious rule – but I am first and foremost an atheist on an intellectual and scientific level. But, it is true that Iran I think has more atheists than in the U.S. due to the fact that Iranians are able to see what the true nature of religious rule is.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Sassan

      I will add: I can respect the teachings of Jesus which is much more peaceful and loving than the teachings of the evil child molesting Muhammad.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • Michelle

      Sassan,

      I also agree with what you say and just ask that you try to have an open heart and let God's spirit in and not get hardened by the Iranian way- that is a huge thing to do but it is possible for you and all people who will just pick up the good news of the bible (any version) to read about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  6. Man's Law

    Seriously, you can try to trump up the charges, but God doesn't care. If you execute the man, you are still creating a martyr, but have now added false witness and murder to your list of evil deeds when you have to stand at final judgment. Not a good idea.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Michelle

      I disagree – God does care for every one of his children and He does not expect us to give our lives as He already gave us His son's life – there is no greater gift

      October 11, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  7. BillInLA

    What a pack of barbarians.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • Michelle

      Agreed! Our country is fighting these people and we cannot win!

      October 11, 2011 at 12:32 am |
  8. Emelia

    @Dont be that guy
    I don't enjoy the stories from other religions as much as the Greek mythology, so I don't study them as much. I'm not being paid to study Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc... I'm paid to study Greek mythos. I look into the parallels between it and the bible on my own time and have done the amount of research I see fit, because it is no more than an activity. Regardless, I have done actual research, and even pored through the original texts a bit. Don't take me for a fool.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  9. LauraJT

    Beliefs are not facts . . . to execute someone for their beliefs because your beliefs are different is barbaric. We might as well be living in the Roman Empire . . . oh wait, I guess we are.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:22 am |
  10. DanW

    Is it Islam or is it Iran?

    October 11, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  11. MM101

    At last, the sentencing reverts to Iran's dictator.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Michelle

      Dictator is a kind word for who will decide his fate! He has no chance in Iran (hell)!

      October 11, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  12. faith

    This case are really common in Indonesian.. They killed and tortured a lot of muslims who became Christians.. GOD help these people please..

    October 11, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Michelle

      Amen to that!

      October 11, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • Hear This

      Your "God" either cannot or will not do a dang thing.

      You can keep yourself busy and feeling powerful by praying all you want, though.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  13. TopCat

    Christians did the same thing to mulims around 500 years ago. look up spanish inquisition.
    so they are a little behind the times. they will catch up. besides, this guy must have a death
    wish to do that in that country. duh.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • MM101

      If you want to compare 500 years ago, perhaps you should look into the Islam invasions and their massacres back then.

      The Spanish defended their homeland from Muslim invaders. A Christian pastor is hardly an invader, and he's lived their for years.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Michelle

      Are you really going to compare this to 500 years ago? Do you still believe in slavery too?

      October 11, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • snoopy

      It's not like he can just leave the country, TopCat

      October 11, 2011 at 12:33 am |
    • Man's Law

      The Spanish Inquisition was more about the Spanish taking out political enemies and seizing property than anything about religion.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  14. Thanos

    No one should have to die for their belief. A real "God" of compassion wouldn't allow for it to happen if he exists. But, we all know there will be no divine intervention here. If you're going to choose to believe in anything, I say put your faith in the sun. It's guaranteed to be there for you everyday, and you can also see it, which really helps with the credibility.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Whiteberry

      This must be a joke.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • joe

      So if they don't kill him, will you agree that it was divine intervention and seek out God with truth???

      October 11, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  15. SC

    "Crosses all bounds of decency"... Well said. There is no greater shame than taking a man's life because he doesn't think the way you think.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Michelle

      Well said!

      October 11, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • mar

      Muslim is never a religion of peace. Either you are with them or you die...

      October 11, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • skuma

      OUR Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be your name.
      Your kingdom come, your will be done,
      on earth as it is in Heaven.
      Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
      Lead us not in to temptation, but deliver from evil.
      For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Josh

      Well said. This primitive, draconian, myopic, evil minded way of viewing the world is pathetic & cancerous The worst expression of humanity.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • adhillo

      hey mar Muslim isn't a religion, just saying...

      October 11, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • mar

      I have many muslim friend who wants to convert but is scared out of their wits from threats to their life and family by fellow muslim. Wow talk about backward religion where things are force feed into you...

      October 11, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I would never suggest that anyone was actually threatened with death but I knew lots of kids that I grew up with who were force fed christianity and were scared out of their wits and terrified of their parent's and family's reaction if they were to tell them they were withdrawing from the family cult.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • adhillo

      and it's force fed not feed

      October 11, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  16. susanenholm32

    Giving up blood-in-the-veins life for religion is crazy. The whole system is mythology – stories people made up to suppress others. Get a grip, man. Religion is about suppression. Jesus won't be there to welcome you into a lovely garden with figs and flowers. So sad that so many people are duped by the devils.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Michelle

      Brother, you have been duped and I pray that you will see the truth one day – the gift of our Lord Jesus Christ – human and yet sinless, what a huge gift. He paid the price for both you and me. God Bless

      October 11, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • mar

      That's your view and others should respect it.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Myths

      Actually, myths are narratives intended to put cosmic working and understanding into human terms and language. We run into trouble when people want to try to take them literally.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • Raspberry

      Myths, "myths are narratives intended to put cosmic working and understanding into human terms and language."

      Close. They are the myth-makers *attempts* at making sense out of the as yet unexplained. As explanations become available, they are no longer necessary (except for nostalgia and perhaps laughs).

      October 11, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  17. HomeyDontPlayDat

    "Pastor's fate in Khamenei's hands"
    No problem! What could go wrong?

    October 11, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  18. Roberta

    Let all true believers in Jesus Christ pray for this brother in Christ. I'm sure he's not afraid to die, he's already risked his life daily just by having faith in Jesus in this land, but may God's will be done and let the true people of God do what we're called to do and that is pray for the brethren. May God Bless and protect this man of God.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • susanenholm32

      Never mind. I was going to write "sick," but let it go. If Roberta wants and needs to belive in Christian [?] mythology, it is her choice. I'd like to see her church pay taxes and get it's opinions out of national politics.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Breed

      What a truly awful human being you are. You should be praying for EVERYONE, not just the "true believers." If you are not praying for your enemy, you are DIRECTLY CONTRADICTING the teachings of Christ, and therefore are not a Christian. Please take your closed-minded, idiotic views on religion and crawl back under the rock from which you emerged.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • CD

      Amen Sister. Let him be a model for those who follow the one true God. Jesus, protect our brother and may your name be exalted in his sacrifice.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Breed

      My God, you people (CD especially) are just like the Iranians. "BELIEVE WHAT WE BELIEVE OR BE DAMNED TO HELL." You are the worst kind of people on the planet.

      By the way, I know you're not very smart, but Muslims believe in the same God as Christians and Jews. Way to prove your point, using stupidity. Works every time.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Nataly

      Yes we will be praying for our brother in christ.. The Lord is giving him the strength to endure this persecution.. and as someone who dies for the sake of the gospel shall be given the crown of Glory... But those who are spiritually dead not born again do not or cannot understand the Joy that believers have in the Lord Jesus Christ and that our lives here on earth is but a vapor and that our true home is in Heaven.. I Pray for this pastor that he would have the strength to preach the Gospel to these demonic sinful men and that the word of God will pierce the souls of these men for the word of God never returns void.. I pray that the lord will open there eyes and that these people would repent and believe in the true and living god an that God would reveal too them of there false worship too this false God ALLAH as it clearly says it is another Gospel and another Gospel is called doctrines of demons. GTY ORG

      October 11, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • Josh

      Breed, that's sort of true. Don't Christians believe in a God of 3? Father, Son, Spirit? Jews and Muslims don't hold to this teaching of God, so the Christian God is a bit different from that perspective.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Breed

      No, Josh. Christians, Muslims and Jews all believe in one God, the God of Abraham. God may be three in one for Christians, but he is still one God. The same God.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • Just a thought

      Actually, Breed, she was just asking people to pray for the pastor; she never said anything about not praying for non-believers. And if she believes, as Christians do, that she knows the one true god, then why would she ask people of otter faiths to pray to gods that she doesn't believe exist? That would be illogical. So...I'm pretty sure that asking for someone to be prayed for doesn't make her an "awful human being."

      October 11, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • Holy Man

      Josh, to say that the three religions view a different God because of idealogical differences is to say that people in the southern hemisphere view a different sun because they view it from a different angle. Different views, same God.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Holy Man

      "just a thought," I know you only have the one thought in that head of yours, but Roberta wasn't asking people of "otter" faiths to pray for anyone. Nor was I asking her to ask people of other faiths to pray for anyone. I'm TELLING her that she must ask her so-called Christian "true believers" to pray for their enemies. That is what Christ commanded. Christians MUST pray for their enemies, or they are violating Holy Scripture.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  19. Patricksday

    Caveman who hold tight to their outdated Traditions of Murder, in Iran and America.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  20. Onecv

    "I meant to say the african slaves." These people were forced to believe that it was God's will to be colonized, enslaved, and massacred with the blessing of the Pope.
    I believe in God, but I am not fond of religion.
    So it does not shock me to hear this news out of iran, USA, France, or England.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • javier

      you're full of the brown stuff my friend, what in the world do your comments have to do with what iran continually does: WHICH IS TO VIOLATE, BLATANTLY, HUMAN RIGHTS.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • LUCY

      Oncey, please tell us whose blessing did the Muslims have when they took more then 140 Million african slaves ? do you know Muslims ensalved black for 1400 years ? im sure it was never taught to you in your liberal class...

      google reseach Islamic slave triade of Africans,

      October 11, 2011 at 1:09 am |
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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.