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. Central Scrutinizer

    Look at these choices for president folks:

    Michele Bachmann: (The 10 Craziest Michele Bachmann Quotes: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-10-craziest-michele-bachmann-quotes) She is crazier the Palin and that is an impressive accomplishment! Christian Creep.

    Herman Cain: In October 2011, Herman Cain described the Occupy Wall Street movement as "un-American". He further stated, "I don’t have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Yeah, why bother with facts.

    Newt Gingrich: His own party has turned him into a political outcast.

    Ron Paul: Ron Paul doesn’t know if he is Libertarian or a librarian, but at least he speaks his mind. Which is exactly why he is un-electable.

    Rick Perry: Regards evolution as a theory. I could go on but nuff said. Please oh please now more Dubya’s!!

    Mitt Romney: Cultist (they all are) but he lies about his faith. I once said, "Well, we’re going to have to hang the ‘Obama Misery Index’ around his neck." Nice.

    The others will withdraw so I won't bother with them. The biggest problem is, they ALL just come off STUPID (because they are).

    Sure Obama is learning on the job, but I believe he is the real deal If the republicans would stop blocking him at every turn and be part of the solution rather than the problem, This could be a very successful 2 term presidency. And he is presiding over one of the toughest eras in our country’s young history.
    Additionally, no matter what happens in the elections. Unless you are rich and/or willing to be on the take AND Christian or pretending to be, you can't get anywhere in Washington. That is bad because it omits the huge surplus of knowledgeable, intelligent and morally sound people we have in our great country from wanting to run for office. That is why we have that mess if idiots running for president!!!!

    October 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  2. Rainer Braendlein


    • The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded “waiting for moderation” category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, “t-it” is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words like “an-al” thereby flagging words like an-alysis and “c-um” flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also “r-a-pe”, “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, “s-ex”, and “hom-ose-xual”. You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge “of-fensive”.

    • Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.

    Sum Dude routinely updates the list of forbidden words/fragments.

    Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments “t-it” and “c-um”. To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on “Edit” on the Tool Bar and then “Find” on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the “Find” slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post. And remember more than one full web address will also gain a “Waiting for Moderation”.

    And said moderators still have not solved the chronological placement of comments once the number of comments gets above about 100. They recently have taken to dividing the comments in batches of 50 or so, for some strange reason. Maybe they did this to solve the chronology problem only to make comment reviews beyond the tedious.
    Zeb’s alphabetical listing

    o “bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN “awaiting moderation” filter:
    Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
    You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the “offending” letter combinations.
    ar-se…..as in Car-se, etc.
    co-ck…..as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
    co-on…..as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
    cu-m……as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
    cu-nt…..as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters…!
    ef-fing…as in ef-fing filter
    ft-w……as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
    ho-mo…..as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
    ho-rny….as in tho-rny, etc.
    jacka-ss…yet “ass” is allowed by itself…..
    ja-p……as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
    koo-ch….as in koo-chie koo..!
    pi-s……as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
    pr-ick….as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
    ra-pe…..as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
    se-x……as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
    sh-@t…..but shat is okay – don’t use the @ symbol there.
    sp-ic…..as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
    ti-t……as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
    tw-at…..as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
    va-g……as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
    who-re….as in who’re you kidding / don’t forget to put in that apostrophe!

    There are more, some of them considered “racist”, so do not assume that this list is complete.
    Allowed words / not blocked at all:
    raping (ra-pe is not ok)
    shat (sh-@t is not ok)

    The CNN / WordPress filter also filters your EMAIL address and NAME as well – so you might want to check those

    October 12, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  3. stilllearning66

    Where is the update on this story??? Any news on this man's situation today?

    October 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Calso

      According to VOA they have referred the case back to lower courts...whatever that means?

      Dear Pastor Yousef-You are in our thoughts and prayers of millions of believers , we know that God's love and protection surrounds you!!!!

      October 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  4. Free the Pastor

    You cannot violate fundamental human rights!

    October 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • Bird

      why not? Iran does it all the time, why would you think they wouldn't do it again?

      October 12, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  5. Simone

    Dear God, please preserve and watch over this brave man's life. He is truly your servant ad a man after You're own heart. Amen.

    October 11, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  6. bless

    lokiman d way i see it u should be d one getting hanged, but i only pray d blindfold is removed from ur eyes before u fall into a ditch....dis pastor's execution news will be an avenue to give a voice to others who are also in d same predicament....may god help all dis islamic extrmist, you all need to understand that God is not a personal property he is or all both christian, muslim, pagans and all other religion alike...how i choose to worship God is between me and God...

    October 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  7. Sassan

    As an Iranian I say to the international community to exert more pressure to save this brave 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 11:58 am |
  8. in_WHOs_name


    October 11, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • in_WHOs_name

      This world has the wrong priority.

      Why are we not outraged about this?

      We seem to care more about Wall Street protesters than we do about this man's life.

      October 11, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  9. DD

    We as humanity are not going to be able to move forward until we can accept that everyone is different in some way or another, and that freedom of personal choice is sacred.

    October 11, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • W247

      Very Well Said.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  10. kate

    The Lord be with you, Youcef.

    October 11, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  11. dougaussie

    how can you tell the difference between US superman and Islamic superman. US superman flys over buildings, Islamic superman flys through them.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:15 am |
    • Buster000

      All the way through or just partially.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  12. Buster000

    For what its worth, our heavenly father is not a religion. Man puts that label on him. Lets say you have two children who are always in disagreement and constantly fighting each other. Now, as a loving father choose one to kill and one to live. You see, God doesn't work that way only man does. Were all children of God and we all think we are right. He loves us all equally and unconditionally. There are differing degrees of sin each of us commit on a daily basis and each will be punished according to the sin if forgiveness is never asked for. Ask God to fill your soul with his heavenly spirit till it overflows. When you pray, the only thing you should pray for is wisdom and guidance. If you are in need he will know of it and provide for you accordingly. Praise the almighty each and every moment you can and you will be a better person for it. Build on bedrock for the afterlife not on sand in the flesh. Don't believe in God, know God personally.

    October 11, 2011 at 4:58 am |
    • Jonathan

      Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God, is the only way to the Father. Salvation (forgiveness and eternal life) is through faith in Him since He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. God does love us all and desires all to come to His Son Jesus to be saved, but those who do not believe in Jesus will not see life but the wrath of God abides on them. We are not all God's children, but those who put their trust in Jesus Christ are adopted into the family!
      Make no mistake, Jesus called people who did not believe in Him, children of the devil:

      "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?" John 8:44-46

      October 11, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • Actually...

      We are not all GOD's children. When you believe in Christ as LORD you become one of GOD's children. All other ways that man has come up with will not get you there. God gave us his written word, the Holy Bible, so we could know Him and the history of mankind and how to be redeemed. You believe or do not believe. If you want to believe: pray, read the gospel of John and ask God to enable you to understand. He said, "You will seek for me and find me when you seek for me with all your heart."

      October 11, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • W247


      He knew us in our mother's womb, from the time even before we were knit together there. We are His creation. However, we are adopted into His family when we accept Him as as Lord and Savior.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  13. Jannai

    CNN is pathetic. It is not a news network it is a propaganda machine.
    America is a failed state with its huge debt. Its public debt will be 16 trillion by the end of 2011. In order to divert attention America is trying to start a new war with Iran.

    October 11, 2011 at 4:22 am |
  14. moneypostyeah

    BTW, I'm a muslim and live in the Middle East. I'm not evil. I'm just like you. I take religion with a grain of salt. I go to the Mosque twice a year. I don't pray 5 times a day. I work and pay taxes. You can whorship the Flying Spagetti Monster for all I care. I don't hold any ill will towards anyone. I don't impose my beliefs on anyone. I just want to live comfortably and provide for my family. I have found that most human being around the world want the same thing. Employment, education, safety and security. I believe in human rights. I don't oppress women. My wife doesn't cover. She wears jeans and t-shirts like most folks. The majority of Muslims are good, honest and normal people.

    October 11, 2011 at 3:47 am |
    • Buster000

      To moneypostyeah. You said, "I take religion with a grain of salt". Well then it appears you are going to hell. please don't tak the rest of your family along for the ride.

      October 11, 2011 at 4:30 am |
    • moneypostyeah

      Since when did you assume the role as judge as of humanity? Does it state in the Bible or the Qu'ran that you are the one that gets to judge humanity and decide their fate?

      October 11, 2011 at 5:40 am |
  15. BCA

    "Law" and "Religion" shouldn't even be in the same sentence together.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • Buster000

      To BCA. It all depends on the foundation you build upon. Gods laws are built on bedrock and have stood the test of time. Man's laws are built upon sand and change with the tides.

      October 11, 2011 at 4:35 am |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ Buster000 said, "Gods laws are built on bedrock and have stood the test of time. " Actually they have not. If you are referring to the Bible as God's law, it's not a good example. Whose Bible? The Jews? The Christians? The Mormons? Each have different interpretations of the Bible, and even add or subtract books from said Bible, and they all claim to worship one God and have the correct interpretation of His laws. I sometimes wonder if God would even recognize himself as described by each faith. Then the Muslims have their Quran, because they believe the Bible has become "corrupt". But Muslims believe in complete submission to God (Allah), and many believe that not only they must submit, but they believe that you should too – hence Iran's attempt at an Islamic state. Well, so far, it's not God's law that has survived anything, it is man's interpretation of God's law. Well, as the state of today's world will prove – "God's Law" is not working out very well – for any of us. That's the trouble will God's laws. It's left up to man to interpret, then "enforce" them. As history has shown, that continues to be a recipe for disaster.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  16. Ronen Newark

    "Pastor's fate is in Khamenei's hands" simply because the World Media brought this news story to light. If the World Media didn't make this into a story, they would have already killed him without batting an eye. Don't kid yourself, the only reason they would spare his life is for PR at the moment.

    That's also the only reason why they let those 2 hikers go prior to Amhedinahad's travels to the U.S. for the United Nations summit. It's all for PR, they really could care less if these people lived or died.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • m toshi

      so this one time i'm glad there's PR! thank god somebody made it public

      October 11, 2011 at 3:49 am |
  17. Samantha

    If people don't have a good impression of Islamic nations this is why. No where else in 2011 do you see stuff like this happening. If they can't tolerate apostates they should let them leave the country. Other countries will take him. As horrible as the MIddle Age Spanish Inquisition was at least the leaders of that backward movement gave all those who would not conform to their strict religion the opportunity to leave Spain if they would not convert. The Iranians should try to be at least as lenient as the leaders of the intolerant Spanish Inquisition.. If they kill this man, they make the leaders of the Spanish Inquisition look good in comparison.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:39 am |
  18. Carol

    My prayers are with this man as he stands up for his religious beliefs. God will provide comfort and forgiveness. May God bless those who fight for this man's life, may He bless those who persecute him. Most of all, God will welcome you home if that is His will.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:39 am |
  19. lokiman301

    I do not see what the problem is. He offended Islam and needs to be put to death so that he can burn in hell for eternity. Plain and simple.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • joy

      He insulted Islam? How? He has the right to maintain his religious freedom like you do. No one should force another of divergent religious belief to renounce just because he is a minority in that area. Are you not free to practice Islam in the UK, USA, France and many European countries despite the fact that these countries have a history and foundation of Christianity. Have you been hung, shot or called an 'infidel' because you prayed openly in a country not yours? Where is the peace you so openly claim you are about? Where is the brotherhood you also claim you are about? Why not lead by example. You want him to convert? show him how attractive it is to become a Muslim and shelve your swords, ropes and daggers. STOP HATING!!! haters don't make heaven. Peacemakers do!!

      October 11, 2011 at 3:29 am |
    • Terje Hoel

      And you don't think it is an offense against God to not let his children worship Him any way they feel like, but that it is better to brutally murder those that allegedly think and feel different about God than you, just because it offends your way of thinking and worshipping God? And you belive that killing someone that belive in God for believing in God is not going to lead you to some sort of thinking about what you have done? Do you really know what struggle it is to believe in God when everyone else is lieing in wait to cacth you perhaps do somthing wrong and threathens to kill you just for the sake of your faith. These are the questions the world is rising.

      October 11, 2011 at 3:53 am |
    • marjun

      Well saId Joy.
      lokiman: From your comment I assume you must be Muslim. We are ad nauseum told how Islam is a religion of peace all the while its followers are peddling hate, intolerance and death. We would be hard pressed to find a single Muslim country which doesn't persecute and harass Christians and people of other faiths and persuasions for nothing other than practising their God given rights. I would rather have a thousand Nadarkhani's here than people like you. But there is hope for you yet. I invite you to repent and turn to God through Jesus and He will give you peace and love instead of hate.

      October 11, 2011 at 4:09 am |
    • chuck

      The Chung thing. You CANNOT prove that God exists. Truly. And its not an offensive statement since Bigfoot, loch ness monster, etc. could be put in place of the word God in that statement ..... funny thing...... zooroastroism (sic) is an attempt of monotheism derived from Egyptian and Greek mythologies, created where???? Iran. Lol

      Judaism took from zooroastroism.... Christians and Muslims took from that.... Mormonism from Christian. Kind daseeong the big picture? Prolly not since you will fail to notice there are some religion's I haven't mentioned that go as far back as you family tree.

      Here's my religions: live a good life; goodperson person and be ready to stand tall when that times come...... sad thing is Christians will end up telling me to go to Hell, and the Muslims will remove my head.

      October 11, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  20. katherine

    Almighty Father, please comfort and hold Yousef in your arms and give him the strength he needs to continue to stand in Your Truth. I ask that the Iran leader be somehow moved to let Yousef go and return to the life he is leading for Your Glory. I am sorry for not demonstrating the same commitment to my faith as this man is showing in the face of death and I pray that you will continue to show me Your Love and Mercy and help me to grow in wisdom and understanding. Thank you Lord.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:37 am |
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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.