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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. sholly

    This is absolute violation of human right. Iran as a member of United Nations should follow the rules. I pray the pastor will be released and wish to tell you people out there that still thinks Christianity is a myth to rethink. The word of God stands sure that Jesus is the way,the truth and the Life, and no comes to the Father except through Him.Wether you believe or not does not change the written word of God.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Patrick

      Amen! UN vote to remove Iran. We Americans and other nations can not be "United" with an evil-government nation like Iran. We as nations need to stand United against human rights violations. Please Obama speak out and push for further sanctions and eventual removing of Iran from the UN.

      October 10, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Fundie

      @Patrick:

      Nice idea, but China (which is also against religious freedom) would simply veto the resolution...

      October 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  2. Propervillain

    Oh good. I'm sure his opinion will be totally devoid of bias and fanaticism....

    October 10, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  3. Central Scrutinizer

    My fellow Americans! Take up the cause. Phoock the mormons and christians and Islam, etc. Let truth guide you! We are running out of time. The country and the world is falling apart!! It is up to US!!

    Until such time as an Atheist, an Agnostic, an openly ho-mose-xual person, or any other minority can be seriously considered for political office, particularly the presidency, then I hang my head in shame as an American. Sure, Obama is half black and that is a step in the right direction. But where are the Asians, Africans, Mexicans, Gays, Atheists, Agnostics and all other minorities? Scr-ew the Christians! Let some intelligent folks move the country forward for a change. The Christian Right are liars, cheats, thieves and charlatans. The Dems just lie to fit in. Americans, let’s take back our country! The time is now! Call out the politicians on their lies. Call out the banks on their thievery. Take Wall Street money away from the politicians. Smart people in Congress, that should be our mantra, Carry on with common sense or we are doo-med. It is up to us to remove them!

    Right now, only morons and liars can run for office. How does this help America??

    October 10, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Ed

      how many more times are you going to paste this. Just so I know when to bother reading anything you write since it will actuaally be something new instead of the exact same thing over and over again

      October 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  4. Bea

    I had a devout Muslim friend in college. Back then I didn't have any spirituality in my life. I was going through difficult times and my friend told me "you don't have God in your life, you should go to church..." I was baffled! She did not tell me to go to a Mosque with her but instead respected where I was coming from. My family is Christian. Today I am a Christian. I will never forget her tolerance and intelligence. Because of her I have the greatest respect with people who have experienced the divine in whatever faith it may be. I pray for the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and I am certain my friend would do it with me.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  5. George

    A country that executes people for their religious beliefs do not belong to the present human civilization. You can be a muslim, christian, or jew-you are worshipping the SAME SUPREME GOD! God must be very, very dismayed by this human behavior. His children are killing each other in order to get his attention.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  6. Akhoond Kosh

    As an Iranian, I'd like to clear the grounds for more executions. However, let's bring some order to the madness: I say get rid of the ones who came into Iran last...MOSLEMS! Iran/Persia, has had Zoroasterian, Christian and Jewish populations who predate Isalm. Let's get rid of the ones causing all the problems.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Pasta

      So, the Moslems occupied your land and now spread their hatred towards people of other faith? What a travesty.
      Evil people.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Hannah

      The issue is not getting rid of moslems, in this case you are no different than the iranian regime. Unfortunately Iranians have seen brutal acts done in the name of Islam, but it's your responsibility to educate yourself and ask who is right here? If we base a religion on the minority muslim terrorists or minority catholic phedophiles then we would not have a religion.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Dhulfiqar

      Agha Akhoond, you do realize 90% of Iran is Muslim? Whatever historical "fact" you have - now 90% are devout Muslims. So please propose something a little more reasonable than your hatred for the Revolution. If there wasn't a brain drain (i.e, educated Iranians leaving Iran for the West) we wouldn't be in this mess today. You're nothing but a sell out who now complains from the safety of your home 1000s of miles away. You're an arm chair critic at best.

      Khoda Hafez

      October 10, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Hannah

      Of course NO religion is ever right.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  7. Todd

    OK, let me start by saying I'm for letting him out of the death sentance. If I remember correctly, Iranian law states that "once a Muslim, always a Muslim". You cannot convert away from the Muslim religion you were born with....doing so, is against Iranian law, punishable by death.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  8. F*c* Allah and Muhamburger

    Saving Muslims is quite easy!!!
    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:
    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
    alone."
    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

    Above is posted by Reality – Well said!!

    October 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  9. F*c* Allah and Muhamburger

    Well said, Reality

    October 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  10. TOM

    I hope he lives. Both Christianity and Islam have kinda "GONE NUTS" with the obsession of "being right" while neither one of them can deliver a single shred of evidence that their GOD actually exists. Show me Santa, show me the Bunny, show me Jesus "rose from the dead", show me God created the universe, and I will believe in your make believe 'god'. Otherwise I might as well go back to worshiping Zeus, Hera, Thor, and the gnomes and the unicorns too! And where is my hobbit, he is late with my cheese, biscuits, and tea! Oh my the dragon is coming. The aliens are landing I have to go.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  11. Free the Pastor

    No place for your hatred and continued intolerance in this century.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  12. eric calderone

    Relgious tolerance seems to be in short supply in the Middle East. From the harassment of Christians and Muslims in Israel, to the intolerant theocracy of Saudi Arabia, now to this incident in Iran. I sincerely hope Ali Khamenei intervenes and overrules this individual's conviction.

    October 10, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Cogito

      Religious tolerance isn't exactly in abundant supply in the only nation allegedly founded on that very principle either...

      October 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  13. Jim

    Torture is horrible in Iranian prisons, especially for prisoners like this man. Praying he gets out soon from prison.

    October 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Hannah

      Actually they won't do half the things they usually do to prinsoners, because his name is out there and the world is watching. It's the ones we never hear about that are tortured the worse..

      October 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Cogito

      Is torture NOT horrible someplace else?

      October 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  14. Kona

    How to Run an Islamic Republic
    by Kim Jong IL

    The masses must be kept in good order and from time to time it is necessary to demonstrate how merciful the state can be. One way to accomplish this is to falsely accuse someone of a crime and then sentence them to death. No doubt this will bring cries of condemnation from abroad and pleas of mercy from the masses. A successful dictator will use his god-like powers to override any and all judgements and issue a Cesarian get-out-of-gallows free card to the convict and a stern warning to all of those who would commit the same crimes. This has the dual effect of endearing oneself further to the masses as a merciful leader and letting them know that no mercy will be given to those who choose the same path as the convicted. Works every time!

    Ciao' for now,

    Kim

    October 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  15. Jim

    Oh let's say he is a Zionist. It's okay to kill Zionists.

    October 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  16. Patrick

    This is just another horrible act of Iranian justice and way of governing. Why we allow them to remain apart of the UN is way beyond my comprehension. They don't follow UN rules and they do not allow UN inspectors into their Nuclear facilities. United Nation's? That says to me America and all other nations united with Iran. I think I just threw up in my mouth and in my mind!

    October 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  17. HPNIII

    Now do people understand the reason for the need of separation of church and state.

    October 10, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  18. Patrick

    Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is Satan in life form. Even the the evil President has problems with this guy's views and idea's. Wikipedia this man. Scary! Wonder why we have multiple CIA/SAD and Army SF Special Recon teams in Iran watching, listening. Let's all hope Russia and China does not align against us when we nuke Iran's Nuclear facilities.

    October 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  19. Dee

    I hope this man survives! He is an inspiration for human-rights and Christianity. Where are the celebrities, though? Afraid to speak out against Islam, I suppose. Good for the White House for trying.

    October 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  20. Reality

    Saving Muslims is quite easy!!!
    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:
    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
    alone."
    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..
    ----------------------------------------------------

    October 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Dee

      K

      October 10, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • John

      We do not even have recorded history beyond 8-ish thousand years ago. So saying that something did not happen is the height of arrogance. Belief is not the problem. It is the perversion of those beliefs that is the problem. Just as the Crusades of the middle ages were a perversion of Christianity, this newest Jihad movement is a perversion of Islam.

      October 10, 2011 at 3:20 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.