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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. Dennis R

    May God bless you, Saint Youcef Nadarkhani, our Iranian martyr. If you die, you bring glory to God. If you live, you bring glory to God. May God be glorified in all things.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Caleb

      To the persecuted Christians. Who give their lives to God. God Bless You

      October 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Irony

      Woah, heavy UltraFundie Astroturfing tonite o-0

      October 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      Why does your god need to be gloried so much? Vain or something? Sounds like yet another despot dictator.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Caleb

      @The Brain Fumigator. Im sorry but if you believe in a God I think it is truly respectable to give him glory. It would seem fair being that he's God.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      Caleb, you should be sorry.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • PRISM - 1234

      "May God bless you, Saint Youcef Nadarkhani, our Iranian martyr. If you die, you bring glory to God. If you live, you bring glory to God. May God be glorified in all things"

      A M E N !

      October 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  2. Caleb

    What bigotry you guys have for religion let alone Christianity. If it was anything else other than religion, you guys would support this man! I feel sorry for him and pray that he will get out of this alive.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      But then you're not helping him. Prayer doesn't do anything other than waste time. Try protesting or contacting some politicians. Not that they're likely to do much, but at least there's some hope versus the zero success rate of prayer.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  3. Hutch462

    oh those Iranians always on the side of human rights.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  4. MayGod HelpHim

    Since he is living in a backward, demonic country with demonic ideas of murdering people simply for their religious beliefs only the One and only Christian God can save him and let us pray that He does! Amen.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Irony

      Looney, table for one! "

      Yer seat is ready, @MayGod HelpHim,... A little whine with your cheese?"

      October 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Matthew

      Ya, Iran a.k.a. Persia, the demonic country that gave us our number system, one of the first concepts of human rights, the wheel and host of other world altering inventions.. .How demonic...

      October 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      MG HH, given the zero impact of any prayer to date, not much chance of it impacting this case one way or another. If they let him go, it will probably be more political than anything. No god present or required.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Such Hypocrites

      Concerning Human Rights, Matthew, too bad those demons don't practice what they preach!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  5. GK

    Organized religion is the worst thing that happened to humans! ALL organized religions.period.
    It is really a stupid reason to kill AND to die for.....

    October 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • American Infidel

      Agreed, religion is the NUMBER ONE cause of human death and suffering. Bronze-age fairy tales used to control the masses. Only the blind and ignorant believe such folly. Ignorant fools abound!

      October 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Matt

      I would gladly die for my faith. Death means nothing after you have found true life.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      Matt, certain 9/11 hijackers said the same thing.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • Guest

      BrainFumigater: I think what Matt means is he would give his OWN life (not take others) for his faith. BIG difference.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      Sure, but here yet again we have religious faith devaluing human life.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • That RemindsMe

      Brain Fumigator, regarding the 9/11 hijackers dying for their "faith", that reminds me, their 'faith', it has been said many times, is to worship the polygamist womanizer isn't it! Um, sad to see such faith go to waste in that!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  6. bruno b.

    religion is bad and blablabla I would that this guy is an example of his faith and a lesson for all of us

    October 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Caleb

      And you sir are a perfect example of atheism. Cruel and and a complete bigot to certain people.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • billwsu

      Caleb, bruno isnt the one planing on executing someone per religion.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Caleb

      No but he is saying he hopes he dies because it would be an example to all of us to deny religion. Frankly, that is just cruel.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  7. Anthon

    Wrong CNN, Pastor's Youcef fate is in Jesus's hands and we believe God still in control.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • GUEST

      100% RIGHT, WE PUT THE STORY NEXT TO EGYPT STORY, BOOM THE EVILNESS IS VERY CLEAR.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Godwho?

      You know God doesn't exist right?

      October 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  8. Irony

    I wonder how much Fundie Astroturfing (google it) is going on right know on this thread?.

    Oh well, asinine arguments, Wrong when it's Right, Wrong when it's Left

    October 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  9. Rinzan

    Dear all,

    I wish I could call myself a devout muslim. I am trying to be one. I have never harmed anybody in my life and cannot comprehend how some of my fellow "muslim" brothers can be evil to others. Every single time a muslim commits an evil thing and I see it in te news, it hurts me a lot. I know the media sometimes exaggerate. But I also know that they cannot exaggerate somethings that never happened. Many brothers do not think before they act. Their evil actions only bring disrepute to my religion. We will be accountable for all our deeds on the day of judgement and you are not going to get a free pass after killing someone.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • billwsu

      Dude its cool. No one should judge a religion based on what one person does.

      The clerics in Iran justify their power by using religion (islam) so any other form of religion is seen as a direct threat to their rule. If they cant control you by saying their word is the word of God, then you wont listen to them. It has nothing to do with the religion itself, but the way in which people use religion to justify power.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • John

      The fact that you would continue to refer to a murderer as your "brother" is disturbing.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Hutch462

      I think the hard thing for non Muslims is that we don't see any moderates stand up and do anything. All we hear is "oh it's a few hijacking the religion...Islam is a religion of peace." I feel for moderates, but they need to stand up, gird their loins and make a stand once and for all. Until they do this Islam and it'[s moderate followers will suffer.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • william fitzwater

      I am a Christian and I have known many people from many faith tradtions. Do not codem yourself on the actions of others that do contradict the tenates of your fine Religion . It is sad when Orthodox trimphs over commen sense and decency. The convert or die manty is part of every relgion. Remember relgion is human created organization . Faith and devine are well from god. All religions have fine obejectives and purposes but men are the ones who foul it all up with thier own desieres.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  10. Grace

    It is just shocking! Let's all say a prayer tonight on behalf of a christian brother persecuted for his faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.For those who are attemting to defend the "undefendable" there are no records of Christians persecuting non christians. Muslims can pray where and when they want, they can even build a mosque by ground zero in NYC!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Daniel

      There's no record of Christians persecuting non-Christians? LOL. That's hilarious. Either you're a troll, or are in SERIOUS need of a history lesson.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Irony

      @Grace The Lord saith uponth you: "You shallth not learnth History, as it willth bringeth forth INTELLIGENCE"

      ...I'm Roman Catholic, Gracie, but God gave me something vital: a sense of humor,... and of what's right and wrong, Hon.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • Fox

      Have you ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition, Crusades, Balkans, Iberian Peninsula, Bulgaria, Anatolia, Russian Empire?

      October 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Irony

      @Fox

      Verifiable facts?!, Now you done it,... Give me the rawhide and 100cc of Holy Water for her poor soul =<

      October 10, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  11. Sue McIntire

    Everyone needs to pray for this young man and support him by storming heaven on his behalf

    October 10, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • billwsu

      Hey Sue, my last name is McIntire too!!!

      October 10, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  12. JDUB

    To those who don't have the balls to have religion... what can you take with you when you die? The only thing is faith. So if you want to gamble your life of either living in heaven or hell, i would get real

    October 10, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • JamieIRL

      What you just said is painfully stupid.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • gopal

      please do not reproduce

      October 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Your Funeral

      JamieIRL, you'll find out just how "painfully stupid" you'll feel when you meet your Creator. But it will be too late by then to do anything about it. Repent Now or see for yourself later on. It's literally *Your* Funeral!

      October 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Raspberry

      JDUB..."if you want to gamble your life of either living in heaven or hell..."

      Better hope you picked the right god then - if it's Allah or some other one (every bit as possible as yours), you're screwed.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  13. Joe

    So much for the Islam, "the religion of peace." Iranians need to look somewhere else for their moral guidance!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  14. Daniel

    This is one of the many reasons I'm an atheist.
    Go to my blog: http://www.godlessgod.blogspot.com/

    October 10, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  15. billwsu

    There are a lot (and I mean A LOT) of christian conservatives in america who would do the same thing to a muslim if they had their way.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Caleb

      That is NOT TRUE!!!!! And your wrong!

      October 10, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • JamieIRL

      There are a lot of everyone that will do everything, what is your point? Two wrongs don't make a right is one of the most simple morals that we learn and even children understand.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Fox

      Unlikely

      October 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  16. 23andme

    This is a shame! Inhumane! No one should be prosecuted because of their beliefs!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  17. PRISM - 1234

    “ Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are those who mourn,
    For they shall be comforted.
    Blessed are the meek,
    For they shall inherit the earth.
    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    For they shall be filled.
    Blessed are the merciful,
    For they shall obtain mercy.
    Blessed are the pure in heart,
    For they shall see God.
    Blessed are the peacemakers,
    For they shall be called sons of God.
    Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
    For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

    And this man surely made His mark in his short life... As time passes, and years go on, his name may be forgotten, but in GOD's kingdom will it known as one of the blessed... HE may loose his battle with the evil princes of darkness ruling the land, but his life is hidden in Christ who has won the victory, even over death itself. This is what those who hate Him don't know... But the Day is comming when they surely will!
    Be strong dear pastor Youcef, the pain of death is but for a moment, yet Eternity is FOREVER!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • jonathan

      If he was smart he would have just left Iran a long time ago.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • PRISM - 1234

      Jonathan, the love for his people kept him there. They are beautiful people who need to know the truth. Pastor Yousef did what many people of the past did... endure to the end.
      If you ever knew the love of God, if it ever entered your heart, you would understand why this man did what he did even in the face of death.
      Greater love has no man then that he would lay down his life for another.... Therse words come from Christ Himslef, and He knew what He was talking about. Pastor Yousef found the meaning of this love. But the world can not understand, nor it can ever understand, apart from knowing Christ Jesus.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Raspberry

      Yeah, and Warren Jeffs thinks that he is being persecuted (and will likely die in prison) for *his* faith... and his followers believe it too.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • PRISM - 1234

      @Raspberry
      It is a sad shape you must be in, not to be able to see the difference between the two!

      October 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  18. Rajeev G

    Religion is awful! Get rid of it!!!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • tom

      what? really? it was here thousands of years before you and will be here thousands of years after you. accept it.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • jonathan

      You're missing the point, Tom. Just because it's been around a long time doesn't make it right. Besides, with so many religions how do you determine which is right?

      October 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Smokey joe

      please stop saying "waht, really" or "really?" its getting really tired just like "that haveing been said" or "that being said" please stop using these phrases its making people cringe

      October 10, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  19. JamieIRL

    The government officials and religious figures of Iran are making their country look like a joke. It's time that the people of I Iran replace these jokesters with someone better, the people of Iran deserve leaders who don't behave like buffoons.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  20. Bryan

    Hey summarians the bible was actually the first of anything to mention that the earth was round

    October 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Paul*

      When and Where

      October 10, 2011 at 10:13 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.