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. Truth1117

    Wow. Intolerance at its finest.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  2. Tiffany

    Notice that the charges other than apostasy came after his initial arrest, after people raised the question of morals. And of course one would say that it is a crime to be openly religious if one is anti-religion. But I'm sure you enjoy your freedom to live as you will, and if anyone criticized you it would be a "serious violation of your rights". Seems like someone just wants to straddle the fence and doesn't know what he/she really stands for.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  3. Chris in Maine

    By executing him, they make a martyr out of him. I'm not so sure they want to do that. Why don't they just deport him and wash their hands of him?

    October 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  4. Jeff W.

    GOD bless you Youcef may He keep you and your family safe also the Lawyer risking his life too.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  5. Tom

    Wow he is so handsome. Too handsome to die.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  6. mr san diego

    I was speaking to an aquintance about this topic here in san diego. He is a pastor for a very large church. he said we should nuke them(iran)...

    October 10, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  7. Daniel

    Although I do not agree with religious persecution, now the Christians know how it feels like.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • Peter

      and what are referring to? A few hundred years ago or more...fool.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Jan

      Christians face persecution all the time. Sadly, this isn't the first time. There are many stories of persecuted Christians even in modern times. Check out the story of Brother Yun. It'll rock your world.

      October 10, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  8. Jay

    God he's hot!

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

    What a wicked and perverse nation and religion. If only Christians were half this man.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  10. Curtis

    Believing in the one and only God and following his son in the face of death is an amazing sign of faith, my deepest prayers are with this man.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  11. mr san diego

    everybody thinks god is on their side...but he can't be. and by the way, who made god?

    October 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • lala

      The fool says in his heart that there is no GOD.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Chris

      I am guessing the Chinese? Isn't everything made in China these days!

      No, seriously, Alpha and Omega and all that, he always was and always will be...

      October 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • goodegyptian

      humans made god duh

      October 10, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  12. justin

    james pdx,
    Your correct Christianity is not a religion but a lifestyle. We our not trying to scare you into believing.All we our saying is that Jesus died on a cross for you and i whether you believe in him or not he believes in you he gave his own life for you that someday you might be saved, yes there is a hell but you are forgetting something far more greater there is eternal life in Jesus Christ living in heaven where the street our made of gold and there are no more tears or suffering no more war or hunger why be scared of hell if the end result is heaven. So no I am not trying to scare you into Christianity, but sending you and invite into eternal happiness. God LOVES YOU even when you dont feel the same.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • grumpy

      Those are some pretty strong drugs you're doing there, justin.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Ray

      Well said.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Bob

      Whatever floats your boat.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  13. Halabi

    The flag of Islam will soon fly over the capitals of Europe. We will have the immigration and birth numbers to make it so. The Cordoba Caliphate will be restored, Allah willing.

    America will, through your economic and moral deterioration, similarly embrace Islam as the true path.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Peter

      And pigs fly..right into your sandwich abdul! We'll all die before that ever happens.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Hov

      America isn't stuck in the 14th century like your dirty belief system.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Raspberry

      Halabi, Re: Domination by Islam:
      Well, that just won't happen. The Christians are praying to THEIR "God" - and 'he' always triumphs, ya' know...

      It's just too sad that so many will have to suffer as you have your battle of imaginary superheroes.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Michael

      The tragedy of your ignorance in spiritual matters is revealed in your statement. It is obvious you don't know God nor have you ever known HIM. But God reminds me that I should not be so harsh on you because I too was also spiritually blinded to the revelation on Jesus. You must be saved....................

      October 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Michael

      If Allah teaches that a man can have 60 virgins at his disposal when he gets to heaven, why can't he have them here on earth. The answer: its becasue Allah doesn't exist... and the True God cannot contradict himself. That would make Him a liar. You cannot have something in heaven that he doesn't allow on earth. I will pray for you......

      In case you didn't know; theres only 2 religions in the world. Those who are SAVED and those who are not! Turn to Christ for Salvation.....

      October 10, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • YouSure AreDreaming

      Hallie, what fairy tale are you dreaming about tonight? When H ell freezes over America will embrace that hideous, murderous, polygamist 'path' that is based on injustices for the innocent.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  14. moses kestenbaum,ODA

    Spit on the koran hang the mullahs now

    October 10, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  15. Ray

    Youcef is in our prayers. For those of you that say he should just say he is Muslim, you do not understand genuine Christianity. If you really believe that all life and your very existence is through Jesus Christ, you can have no other response than to say you believe in God the Father. To say anything else would be a sin and a lack of faith. Jesus is the only answer.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  16. Patrick from Minnesota

    I had know idea those bonehead Iranians cheering on this guy's execution want to make a martyr so badly.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  17. tet1953

    Seems stupid to me. Don't they basically worship the same God?

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

      It's not about God...it's about Christ.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  18. Kerry

    This is like one of the stories out of the Bible where the people die rather than denounce their faith.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • Hov

      Only difference is, those happened more than 2000 years ago.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  19. Halabi

    He was a provocateur and an agent of the Zionist international Jew. He was dealing with state secrets that threatened the internal security of the sovereign state of Iran. Treason. This is a death penalty in your country too, no?

    October 10, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Bob

      Heil Hitler! Reichsführer Halabi.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • mr san diego

      Of course they're all provocateurs or agents of SATAN OR THE JEWS,even if they're not...

      October 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • A believer

      Wow, really. Then why are the "treason" charges not listed. Everyday radicals persecute non believers or infidels as commonly refered to. Regardless, I pray for you.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Y Walk

      Isn't religion wonderful, the cause of all evil in the world. Obviously the Koran says somewhere, kill, kill, kill. Islam is a wonderful religion that should be dealt with, just like their politicians, pickle them all and put a porkchop in their mouth and after they finish climbing the mountain, they will find out that all the virgins are taken.

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

      BS! Why doesn't it mention that on the court papers???? That's a story they added to it, because it's beyond pathetic to execute someone for their religious belief.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Mark

      So THAT'S why those three hikers were kept all those months? Because they were spying? Or was it some other made -up excuse your hypocritical government fabricated just to make some noise in the political realm? Oh wait, the hikers were released by way of a pay-off. So, which is it, were they spies or was your government simply being corrupt? I'm not saying ours is flawless (the U.S.A.), far from it, but to trump up charges on a bunch of liberal hikers from UC Berkeley is laughable at best. Now Iran shows its true colors with a Christian pastor. Good luck convincing the rest of the world that you're not being hypocritical.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Steve

      you have to be either kidding or a complete moron. Why not blame bad weather on the Zionist conspiracy?

      October 10, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Hov

      I feel so sorry for you Halabi. Brainwashed and clueless about the reality of things.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • grumpy

      "This is a death penalty in your country too, no?"

      Yes, if you don't renounce your religion we'll kill you. All muslims in the USA must convert to judaism under penalty of death.

      Just like your country, no?

      October 10, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Usa

      Really what do they have that proves this they want to kill him because he's christian and they only want muslims in their country. They changed the story when the story was shown to the world and everyone condemned it so get ur facts right

      October 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Roger

      He's not charged for treason but for refusing to recant his Christian faith... Tell me, is your God tells you to kill someone because he is Christian?

      October 10, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • stilllearning66

      From Aesop's Fables:
      The tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny."

      October 10, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  20. Patricksday

    As Jesus said "Forgiven them Father, for they know not what they do", I'am sorry to see him in this position, but he came out of the Closet in a Stone Age world, and now he must render unto Ceasar what is Ceasars. Isnt Religion Beautiful, so full of Hate and Anger and FEAR. And GREED if you look at American "Christians" in the Republican party.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Jeff

      A brave man stands up for his convictions, even under threat of death, and you somehow connect it to "greedy" Christians in the Republican party??!! That's about the saddest and most callous thing I have ever heard.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Larry L

      Don't become the people you're describing. I agree that we've been held hostage by the greed of the right-wing, but this is something else. This is just another example of the negative impact of religion on the world's people, but it doesn't appear to be related to the Republican Party.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Nah

      je: "A brave man stands up for his convictions, even under threat of death, and you somehow connect it to "greedy" Christians in the Republican party??!!"

      Patrick is a troll. Or your garden variety dogmatic atheist.

      Don't worry about him.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Nah

      larry: "This is just another example of the negative impact of religion on the world's people"

      Right. Because people are domineering, greedy, and lust for power insofar as they're religious, not insofar as they're human.

      You're smart.

      October 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
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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.