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. Guest

    I wonder... if God is not real then why do people say "Oh My God"? Why not not "Oh My Buddha"?
    Just something to think about...

    October 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • ScienceSoma

      Same reason they say "Bless you" instead of "Sorry you sneezed." It has no spiritual or religious significance when it is so common that 12 year old girls abbreviate it "OMG" right along with "TTYL". People using an expression in common parlance is not proof of a supreme personal deity anymore than the expression "For Pete's sake!" deifies Pete... whomever he may be.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • The Brain Fumigator

      In religions other than yours, it's a sin to say god's name or to speak of god in certain ways. All those religions, and yours, are bunk.

      I just said "Oh My Invisible Five-headed Unicorns". That must mean invisible five-headed unicorns exist. Oh, wait.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Dr. Emmett Brown

      Great Scott, Marty, I was afraid of that!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  2. not peace but a sword

    Those who lose their life for my names sake will find it-jesus. If the world hates you remember it has hated me first-jesus

    October 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  3. chuck wagon

    I'm not a follower of Christ but have heard of Him and hearing this and things like this makes me want to pray.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Vishnu sucks

      lol o rly

      October 10, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • cam

      awesome! i pray that you continue to be inspired to follow Him..rest assured you are on the right path.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Solidrock

      It's really unfortunate. I'm an American but was born Muslim. I became a Christian and the worst that I got was some slack from my friends and and some cold shoulder from my family. There's a cost to being a follower of Christ – that's a given. It's just sad to know that some pay with their lives.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  4. Halabi

    He has violated the Hadith and insulted Islam. This is his punishment and it is right with the Scripture of Mohammed (PBUH). If he chooses not to embrace the Truth, then he will suffer the consequences. So says the law of the One True God.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Blue Bird of Happiness

      Halabi..." the One True God."

      Prove It!

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

      In other words anyone with slightly different self-delusion than yours should be eliminated??
      Which century you're coming from, again?

      October 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Raul

      Halabi: he was prosecute because he is Christian, that is it.
      Andate a la puta que te pario Halabi.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • IranDestroyed

      i'd like to insult you personally and make you wish you were never born is what i would like to do with you and all the perverts that are like you...your 'prophet' was a child molester and all of you who claim to follow him are all child molesters and murderers. YOu love murder, mayhem and death. hate is your daily bread, it is what defines you and by the actions of your sick religion and your sicker culture you will be wiped from the face of this earth.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Raspberry



      October 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Brent

      Not everybody believes in what you believe. To kill someone over their beliefs is insane. I hope this murderous regime in Iran is brought to its knees for the sake of humanity.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • db

      And Islam insults the Christian beliefs. We find that those who practice the radical and backward ways of Islam are flawed and do not follow the true Koran. It is your religeous leaders who profess to lead your toward their wishes and not that of the true Koran. These leaders keep you in the dark, keep you stupid, and keep you afraid of your own shadows for fear of retribution. It is only through respect and education that all men can life together unless your Holy Koran says that all infidals must die, in which case I differ entirely with you and will kill you before you kill me.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • PRISM - 1234

      Dear friend, you are in sad shape...Your religion is poor, wretched and miserable.... As it is in vain to spread a net in the sight of any bird, nor can one capture cage a soul of a man who is set free from bondage of dead religion.
      The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me
      To preach the gospel to the poor He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
      To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
      to set at liberty those who are oppressed to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD".( Luke 4)
      These are the words of Christ Jesus Himself. Pastor Yousef found the meaning of them. Do you think that once being free , he could deny the Lord who set him free from chains of darkness?
      But you can't say the same of your Mohamed whom you listen too and in whose words you put your trust.... and here lies the whole difference.....

      October 10, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • PRISM - 1234

      P.S. the above post was a response to Halabi.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Raspberry

      See, Halabi, Now you've got PRISM-1234 praying against you. Your fate is sealed!

      October 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  5. Pavani

    When they have the freedom to practice their faith all over the world, should they not extend the same courtesy to everyone else? I guess on the same note we should ban them from worshiping their religion here. I am sure they will understand!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  6. Brian

    Lord, bless your servant Youcef and all others like him. Please change hearts that hate into those that love. Bless your children in Egypt as well. Give birth to a real 'Brotherhood' of love, where there is concern for all of our brothers and sisters.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  7. monarchist

    The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains.
    –Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri

    October 10, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • jester

      Spot on

      October 10, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  8. scieng1

    It is clear that Islam is not a religion of peace and justice, as some claim. While this pastor may be martyred, they will not stop the relgion of peace that he represents.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  9. billwsu

    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 10:19 pm |
  10. rik

    Theocracies suck

    October 10, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Nah

      rik: "Theocracies suck"

      Nah, dictatorships suck.

      Or would you be happy if Iran were ruled by an iron fist, guided by non-religious principles instead?

      October 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  11. jeffbo

    Why is every story out of that nutty country always violent, relentless and staunch ?

    October 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  12. LKJ

    Is his life in danger because he has converted to Christianity or because he "has committed security-related crimes." The second charge sounds like treason, and would be severely punished in any country. Things aren't always what they seem.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  13. Billy

    He should just say he's a Muslim to save himself from the satisfaction of those ignorant people. Can we please evacuate all Christians and non Muslims from that country? Shouldn't this be a human right?
    I mean what is the delay here?

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

      He's not recanting because he shouldn't have to. It takes balls to face death, knowing that survival was as simple as saying "Hey, I was wrong", and proceed to not say it.

      The guy's sticking to his guns. MAD props. God bless you, sir.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  14. puhbah

    God is hearing the prayers of all of us praying for him. Keep the faith.

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

      No prayer has ever been proven to have been answered. Ever. Try working some political levers instead.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  15. John Steel

    Islam is an evil cult that spreads hatred and violence. Where is the out pouring of outrage from "moderate" Muslims?

    October 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • IranDestroyed

      there is no outrage from 'moderate' muslims because if they exist in Iran, and spoke out over this, they also would be tried and probably killed or charged with treason or some other invented charge. Anything to get rid of them. In this country there are so-called 'moderates' but they are too scared to say anything because they know that because they are 'american' muslims they might as well be dead. We should start a retaliation and just arrest thousands of these trouble makers and send them back to Iran – then they might express outrage to avoid Iran. Most of them I have met ignore the Islamic Republics publically but secretly profess their complete allegiance. In the end it will be the freedoms that we die to protect for all that will allow some to end it for everyone.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  16. KingDgs31


    October 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  17. victoria

    is it wierd to say that besides his nose, hes actually cute? bwahaha

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

      The man may be hung and all you can think to comment on is his nose? Do you know the meaning of the word empathy? Is it in your experience? I don't think so.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • IamwhoIam

      Victoria, I was seriously reading this until I saw your post, then I had a good laugh. This is actually the first laugh I have had all day. You are right, but anything can be fixed. Now seriously, let us keep Pastor Youcef in our prayers – they may kill his earthly body but his soul will be in paradise with our Lord – as a prior Muslim I can tell you that the almighty has already placed a band of armor around Pastor Youcef – rather than shed tears for him – I will shed tears for his country because "there will be a recckoning".

      October 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  18. Peter

    Solution, bomb those crazy, ignorant towel heads and send all American Evangelicals and right wing nuts there too, kill em all, pigs!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Alex Pitman

      yes I agree, lets make a parking lot out of Iran!!!

      October 10, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  19. They CreatedIt

    Iran is truly the Number ONE country in the world known for its SHAME and MURDER!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  20. jschau

    Who cares!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
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.