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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. encryptedsanity

    Let's lock the leaders of Iran and the Westboro Baptist Church in the same cell and throw away the key.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Idontlikeyou

      How about we kill both and have peace

      October 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  2. vasquez

    I like how saying he's a Zionist makes him automatically guilty

    October 10, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • ronen

      Well, Zionist has the letter "Z" in it. So does "naZi". and so does "Zoltar", the evil guy from G-Force. The clever liberal can connect the dots.....

      October 10, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  3. Snoopy

    I like how the religious right is outraged by this, yet on the flip side, they persecute muslims in america.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Enlightened4

      No one even thinks about murdering you because you're a Muslim. The reason this country has little respect for Muslims is because they are so UNJUST, AUTOCRATIC criminals. Obama has been PRO Muslim and that will be taken in account as he will be defeated in 2012.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • Dialogos

      Snoop! Ignorance is bliss. Hypocrites who slander. It's the Christian (Western) world that you take for granted that created our freedom. Did you ever notice that the Western world is also the Christian world. Don't notice the millions of Christian who invest their time and resources in aid and helping others around the world.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Snoopy

      Thanks for illustrating my point exactly.

      Wishing you the best, Snoopy.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    A Muslim is the patient. Islamism is the disease. The overwhelming majority of Muslims contract the virus of Islamism at an early age when they are most vulnerable. Once this virus takes hold, it either completely destroys the individual’s cognitive immune system’s ability to reject the disease, or makes it most difficult for the person to see the pathology. That’s why the great majority of babies born to Muslim families remain Muslim for life. It is also a fact that a significant percentage of Muslims contract the virulent form of the belief, Islamism. Islamism is jihadist, intolerant of the “other”

    Lying and dissimulation is taqiyya, ordained and practiced by Muhammad, for use by Muslims only when dealing with infidels. Muslims have the patent and copyright on this shameful practice and the non-Muslims have no need for it. You use lies when you aim to deceive, when you are ashamed of something, or when you wish to distort things. Free people have no need for the abhorrent practice. The contents of the Quran that feed Islamism are the proof you need to present to Muslims.

    In short, we have a great country, troubled by numerous challenges.

    Look on Middle East, what is the greatest thing that they have for the world??

    it's only Terror!!
    it's only Womanize Slave!!
    it's only Hatred towards others!!

    And if they all are Islam, then "believe me" they will kill each others in the name of their own tribe!!! Because their mind is trained to not tolerant to "differences"

    October 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • anon

      Islamism? Seriously? I didn't have to read more than five words to get a sense of the total ignorance that the rest of the post harps on.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Mike

      ...this description applies to all forms of religious extremism

      October 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Tim

      But couldnt you say the same thing about Christianity? Most Christians are inculcated in their belief system at a very young age ... long before they have learned critical thinking. All religions think they have the answers and they only they possess the Ultimate Truth of reality. And, of course, none of them do. It has nothing to do with Muslim vs. Christian or Jew vs. Others. It's really all about leanring to think for yourself. And people who have mastered the art of thinking, tend towards a blanket rejection of any system of thought (i.e. religion).

      October 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Enlightened4

      Excellent comment and tells it as it is.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • mr san diego

      I would bet the odds of anyone switching from Christianity to the Islamic faith is about as likely as someone switching from Islam to Buddhism as well or any other organized religion. You’re just as brainwashed

      October 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
  5. I AM

    MY WAYS ARE NOT YOUR WAYS ,MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS,WHAT MAN CAN SAY HE KNOWS ME,MY ANGER AND REVENGE WILL BE SWIFT,FOR ALL WHO SHOW NOT MY LOVE AND MERCY,YOU CAN NOT SILENCE MY WORD BY KILLING MY PROPHETS,BUT THE CURSE UPON THY CHILDRENS CHILDRENS CHILDREN,

    October 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • anonymous

      Hoy...Yahoo...there is one times, two times, and a half times.

      Don't break your own rules..

      October 10, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • ananymouse

      My cows are not your cows.
      My goats are not your goats
      My chickens are not your chickens.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  6. Ryan Contra Mundum

    "Eighty and six years I have served him..... how then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour? Bring forth what thou wilt." (the words of Saint Polycarp (69 – 155 AD) 2nd century Christian bishop of Smyrna as he was bound and burnt to death at the stake – for the Glory of our Lord)

    This man, my brother, will not blaspheme nor deny his King and Saviour – Bring forth what thou wilt leaders of Islam

    October 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Enlightened4

      Vengeance is mine saith the Lord God. Have no doubt that He can and will deal with this cleric.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  7. D.Ross

    So the Imperial Wizard of the IRI is going to get involved? I predict for $2 million and a seat at the G20, the guy is allowed to emigrate to South Africa.

    October 10, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  8. Jerry

    May our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, protect this believer from harm at the hands of the blood thirsty muselims. Vengeance is mine saith the Lord of Hosts, I will repay, Hell is going to be crowded with persons who murder Christians.

    October 10, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Dialogos

      Amen.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  9. Open

    Why is it that islam is the only ridiculous religion that kills people for their 'faith'????

    October 10, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • anonymous

      The answer is "because they are so afraid that the cure of love will break their virus cancer of hatred"

      They are "AFRAID" because they KNOW that they FAITH WILL FALL if their know to CHRISTIANITY"

      The EVIL so afraid....

      October 10, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • Paul

      Actually, Christianity did its share of that. Many centuries ago. But you are right about today. Islam stands out as the one major world religion that seems unable and unwilling to share the planet with members of other faiths.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • history lesson

      Google the "The Crusades"..

      Islam is just a few hundred years behind times on killing in the name of religion.. the common link is religion..

      October 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Leo

      Ah, Christians not only routinely killed pagans, Muslim and Jews but also fellow Christians who deviated from orthodox dogma. Perhaps you should read the history of the Christian church and become more informed. You still see today the kernal of this anti-Christian behavior masquerading as Christianity by evangelicals that condemn anyone that does not believe in their radical views. To them Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah Witness', Coptics and Greek Orthodox are all members of a cult and damned to hell. Fundamentalist of all faiths will be the end of us all. God save us from them.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Enlightened4

      Because they don't know the One True God.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
  10. kimsland

    Wait his beliefs are relating to after he's dead, I though religious people thought that living here on Earth was somewhat of a hell or temporary transition to heaven? Why are these religious people caring what he does here on Earth? Pretty positive all religious people will relate to that.

    Now regarding normal behavior. He left one religion to join another? Seriously some people have little hope in getting better.
    Future generations will look back and say people actually died for their fairytale religion, how absurd is that.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  11. Belmont

    This may not be the first incident of these 'barbarians' persecuting people of other faith, they have repeatedly violated basic human rights and continue to do so and yet raise a hue an cry elsewhere in the world on how it is their fundamental right to wear those burkas.

    Stop your atrocities against humanity.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  12. Tone

    Let the man go. He has committed no crime. If you believe he has committed one spiritually let him live out his destiny. Why shall you commit another crime to prove a point?

    October 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Patrick

      It is actually a crime. In Iran that is. If any Iranian leader were to say anything against hanging or condemning this Pastor, they would be also hanged to death. That is why his fate is sealed. This man will be put to death, unless the Supreme Leader goes against every thing he believes in for a Christian man, that would be the miracle, but I'm not counting on that, no one should. Just pray for this man and thank him and thank the lord for courageous men like him.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  13. Patrick

    I'm not giving up so soon, I thought about not responding to your posts, but then the Lord spoke to me that if he hasn't given up on you, why should I. The US military as whole is not fighting a holy war, but the other 11 guys I serve with in some way believe we are in a way fighting for Jesus, but for our nation's safety foremost. We men of faith need to be courageous and Jesus needs warriors too. Not the first time I've been called creepy, but if thats your view I'm ok with it. Guess what's more creepy is that the government gives creepy guys like me TS/SCI clearances and weapons to go fight for God and Country.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Patrick

      "We will never forget!" I joined the Army after watching thousands of innocent fellow country men and women lose their lives, when 20 hijackers flew our own planes into our own buildings and took 3,000 lives and nearly 900 more since from ground zero related health problems. Yes, we have killed many terrorists, the men I serve with that is. Do I feel bad, no more bad then they felt when they flew into our buildings and incinerated my countrymen. I fight for Jesus, first and country second yes. But don't make my choice and beliefs speak for the military as a whole. We fight terrorism world-wide its not about Afghanistan or Pakistan or muslim or christian, it's about fighting to liberate the oppressed. Group 3 Army SF is under AFRICOM command and some of my superiors have fought in conflicts regarding human genocide, before the group began focusing on Afghanistan. I would humbly take the fight to anyone or nation who preys on the weak.

      October 10, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  14. tonelok

    @TheWalrus
    Right out of the dark ages christian playbook...

    October 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  15. Qutubuddin

    The Torah states:
    If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; [Namely], of the gods of the people which [are] round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely KILL him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to DEATH, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt STONE HIM with STONES, that he DIE; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
    —Deuteronomy 13:6–10

    October 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • bd

      Almost every religion has controversial statements or aspects to their written or historical religious doctrine, the difference is what is put into practice by the current generation and taught to those that follow. Perhaps you would deign to notice the lack of stonings in the Christian and Jewish demographics (the two primary cultures that adhere or revere the scripture you quoted), it would take a bold and ignorant person to suggest that an individual was direspecting or poorly practicing their religion for not obeying the part that requires stoning......

      Now if only the tribal leaders in Af-Pak and those who share similar beliefs could be made to see the world that way...

      October 10, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  16. THE-Tally-Whacker!

    Damn islam sucks anyway.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Qutubuddin

      IN JUDAISM : The Torah states:
      If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; [Namely], of the gods of the people which [are] round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely KILL him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to DEATH, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt STONE HIM with STONES, that he DIE; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
      —Deuteronomy 13:6–10

      October 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  17. Qutubuddin

    The Qur'an says:
    Let there be no compulsion in the religion: Clearly the Right Path (i.e. Islam) is distinct from the crooked path.
    —Qur'an, [Quran 2:256]
    A section of the 'People of the Book' (Jews and Christians) says: "Believe in the morning what is revealed to the believers (Muslims), but reject it at the end of the day; perchance they may (themselves) turn back (from Islam).
    —Qur'an, [Quran 3:72]
    But those who reject faith after they accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of faith, never will their repentance be accepted; for they are those who have (of set purpose) gone astray.
    —Qur'an, [Quran 3:90]
    Those who blasphemed and back away from the ways of Allah and die as blasphemers, Allah shall not forgive them.
    —Qur'an, [Quran 4:48]
    Those who believe, then reject faith, then believe (again) and (again) reject faith, and go on increasing in unbelief, – Allah will not forgive them nor guide them on the way.
    —Qur'an, [Quran 4:137]
    O ye who believe! If any from among you turn back from his faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He (Allah) will love as they will love Him lowly with the believers, Mighty against the rejecters, fighting in the way of Allah, and never afraid of the reproachers of such as find fault. That is the Grace of Allah which He will bestow on whom He (Allah) pleases. And Allah encompasses all, and He knows all things.
    —Qur'an, [Quran 5:54]

    October 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • anonymous

      This http://Quran.com/5/51 "Don't make love with Jews nor Christians"

      October 10, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  18. TheWalrus

    Ah Yes, ISLAM THE RELIGION OF PEACE, ( Believe it, or we will kill you)

    October 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Qutubuddin

      The Qur'an says:
      Let there be no compulsion in the religion: Clearly the Right Path (i.e. Islam) is distinct from the crooked path.
      —Qur'an, [Quran 2:256)

      October 10, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • anonymous

      Screw this http://Quran.com/5/51 "Don't make love with Jews nor Christians"

      October 10, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  19. tonelok

    @Patrick
    "Everyday and night my unit has spent in those countries we prayed for each other's safety and for "his" will to be done." Your dangerously close to turning the hunt for a terrorist for the purposes of keeping our nation and the world safe to calling it a holy war. I hope that's not what you meant, but if you really thought that you were in Afghanistan to kill terrorists for "him" you are the worst type of person.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  20. Central Scrutinizer

    Ahhhh! All you Bible thumpers are getting me off point. I DON"T CARE what you believe!

    My point is this and this ONLY: 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.

    October 10, 2011 at 6:04 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.