Skip to main content

Iran: Execution for Apostasy Seems Imminent

Nina Shea

The American interfaith delegation—Catholic cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Episcopal bishop John Bryson Chane, and Council on American Islamic Relations director Nihad Awad—who made headlines when they traveled to Tehran and secured the release of the two American hikers last week should pack their bags again. They need to make a return trip. And they better hurry.

As early as this week, the British-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports, Iran may execute Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani for refusing to recant his Christian faith.

As my colleague Paul Marshall recently wrote, evangelical Pastor Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy because he converted to Christianity. He had been tried and found guilty a year ago, even though the court also found that he had never been a practicing Muslim as an adult. Nadarkhani, from Rasht, on the Caspian Sea, converted to Christianity as a teenager.

Iran’s Supreme Court, which upheld the verdict in June, ordered that the pastor be given four chances to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. Two hearings for this purpose took place yesterday and today. Two more are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Pastor had been arrested in 2009 when he tried to register his church with authorities. His defense lawyer Mohammed Ali Dadkhah was himself sentenced in July to nine years imprisonment for “actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime.” He is now appealing.

According to the U.S. State Department, if carried out, Pastor Nadarkhani’s execution would be the first for apostasy since 1990 in Iran.

Related Articles

Placing ISIS' Persecution of the Copts in Context

Samuel Tadros

The murder of 21 Christians by ISIS in Libya brought condemnation from around the world and puts them in a long history of persecution of Copts....

Continue Reading

Has ISIS Brutality Shifted the Political Dynamics of Terrorism?

Christopher Sands

How will the U.S. view tradeoffs between civil liberties and public safety, and the positions of candidates and parties on these issues? Look North....

Continue Reading

Nina Shea on the Vatican's "Just War" Doctrine

Nina Shea

Nina Shea discusses the Vatican's "just war" doctrine concerning ISIS....

Watch Now