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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. Bayousara

    All those old f-#rts in Iran will die sooner or later. Hopefully some of the younger generation (Iran has a very young population) might be a little more tolerant over just about everything. I see many similarities between their demanding people not to believe a certain religion and the same stuff in Europe that drove people to the New World in droves. Many a hanging and bonfire took place in Europe centuries ago for the same reason, and much of it had to do with which CHRISTIAN beliefs were allowed and which weren't.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  2. Bryan

    I pray for pastor youcef that God will protect him and guide him in this life and in eternity beyond

    October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  3. Keith

    Some day, this pastor is going to be death and Khamanei will be death and Natanjahoo will be death.. They will meet in teh other world and realize they all were wrong... they will wait and wait and wait .. and no Mr. God is coming ....

    October 10, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  4. Bill

    Biggest schnozzle ever.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  5. Jeff Reynolds

    And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. – Matthew 10:28

    October 10, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Bill

      Oh, thank you Jeff. We are inspired.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Richard W.

      Seek help and "de-programming" – you poor, pathetic & utterly brainwashed creature.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • b4big bang

      Yes! And : Revelation 2:10 "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life."

      October 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • John Smith

      And fear not for thee who is clueless, for thou shall elect a monkey and see thou country fall. Fox News 1:01

      October 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  6. Samuel

    This kind of inhumanity goes far beyond the confines of religion. This man is a human-being who happens to share a different ideology. It's sad being reminded of this illogical hatred in modern times, where everyone is supposed to be "open-minded".

    October 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Guest

      "supposed to be" open minded? Where have you been living? Under a rock? Noone is open minded, sorry to say, just read comment after comment day after day.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  7. Summarians

    All these religions come from the Sumarians. Funny that they are still believing this suff in the 20th century. Folks, the earth is round!

    October 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  8. John Smith

    Kill him already.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • b4big bang

      Why?

      October 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  9. Bill D.

    Just waiting for (the self appointed and apparently "God's direct representative" Khamenei, to show the world how tolerant towards other religions, the "peace loving" government of Iran is.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  10. Dialogos

    Does anyone here making comments care about the the Paster who is facing death becuase of his FAITH? And one wonders why America is fading? Many of you paganites sound like a lot of clueless secular puppets.

    Go back to watching TV!

    October 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • John Smith

      You're an idiot. America is fading because of religious nuts like you who still live in the 1800s.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Beelzebubba

      I gotta side with John Smith on this one.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • son of hamas

      Qur'an is book by & for terrorist. you go and spend ur time reading it. We salute Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Die but never accept Islam...religion of terrorist. Why is no muslim coming out in protest for this act. There were muslim donkeys on street to protest "Burn a Quran everyday"

      October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • John Smith

      @son of hamas: Did you spend time reading the Bible? Not much better.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  11. moses tuchus kestenbaum

    At the ODA we hung an effigy of kohmaini the murderer,the muslims are drunk if they follow islam

    October 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Bill

      "We hung?" You hung? I hung! Girlfriend she like it.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  12. Gina

    How idiotic can they be? If they murder him, he will be a martyr. Exactly the opposite of what they want, no?

    October 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  13. Seth

    Thank this man for his stance to defend Christianity. I pray that if he is executed, it is swift.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  14. Zara

    And isn't this when Christians from all over the world should be helping? So many American Christians and the only thing that's big news in the states is the Evangelical calling Mormonism a cult?!

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

      This guy doesn't need Christians to help him. He needs the God of the Christian faith to save him.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  15. ronen

    Isn't amazing how satanist Ahmadinejad stands on the podium at the United Nations and blurbs something about "peace, understanding, compassion new era of mankind [except for zionist. they go to the ovens which never existed]" – and at the same time head a state which is about to execute a man for the crime of not being Muslim?

    October 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  16. JT

    So...one offshoot of Abraham is going to execute another offshoot of Abraham because they simply got it wrong? You religious nuts are the downfall of us all.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Magi ross

      Idiot bigots like you are the shame of mankind ,iam not even going to waste my time explaining to you how stupidly you miss the point idiots like you though are needed to make ordinary people appreciate thei sanity

      October 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  17. bas75252

    Goes to show that Islam is a barbaric religion. How can human decency allow such a thing to happen? Should we start executing Muslims and people of other faith than ours?

    October 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  18. Dan

    I want to state just historic facts that lead into simple and obvious conclusions. Any critical thinker will easly see simple logic. IF it was true that Islam is violent as most Republicans and Zionis try to claim, THEN Jews and Christian would have been mass murdered during past 1400 years as they were mass murdered in Christian Europe. BUT, Jews and Christians did NOT get mass murdered as they were in Europe. Therefore, Islam is not violent. Just FYI, in mathematical logic this is called reductio ad absurdum. The only explanation to the unfortunate violence that is happenning between the three faiths during past 100 years is due to wave of nationalism, imperialism, and Israeli-Palestinian issue that is inflicted on Middle East by arrogant impereal Eu/US. Christianity got used by people like you as Islam was used by fanatic. BTW, I was in Iraq AND I am Chrisitian, but I got saved by Muslims from the criminals.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  19. Cho

    Let's see how God will do in this case. Pastor, my prayer is with you.

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

      To whom are you praying to? If he dies, he dies.

      1 John 2:18-26

      October 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • TruthKeeper

      In The End When All Is Said And Done God and His-own Triumph. Read the Last Book of His Word The Holy Bible called Revelation. Well You Shouldn't read it just that or for sake of, we should read it and meditate on it daily, it's food for our souls.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • JimMoss

      God Almighty will prevail in this! You can be assured of that. His might will be revealed upon this nation of sinners!

      October 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  20. Andrew

    holy @#$#@ there are some nutcases on this message board tonight! lol

    October 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Guest

      And who's to say you're not one of them?

      October 10, 2011 at 10:06 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.