Iranian pastor who refused to recant his Christian faith has been finally sentenced to death by a trial court in Iran. Supporters fear Youcef Nadarkhani may now be executed at any time without prior warning, as death sentences in Iran may be carried out immediately or dragged out for years, Foxnews reported.
The order to execute Nadarkhani came only days after US lawmakers in Congress supported a resolution sponsored by Pennsylvania Rep. Joseph Pitts denouncing the apostasy charge and calling for his immediate release.
Nadarkhani was first imprisoned in December 2006 on charges of apostasy and was released two weeks later, Lookup reported.
In 2009, Nadarkhani discovered a recent change in Iranian educational policy that forced all students, including his children, to read from the Qur’an. Up on hearing this, he went to the school and protested, based on the fact that Iran’s constitution guarantees freedom to practice one’s religion. He was then arrested on charges of protesting.
The charges against him were later changed to apostasy and evangelism, the same charges he was initially arrested under in 2006. In September 2010, he was sentenced to death for charges of apostasy or renouncing his Islamic faith. Government officials later insisted that the sentence was instead based on alleged violent crimes, specifically rape and extortion.
Nadarkhani’s wife was also arrested in June 2010 on charges of apostasy, and was sentenced to life in prison. But she was released in October 2010. The couple has two sons, aged 7 and 9.