Next week, two Christian men – one in Iran and the other in Algeria – are scheduled to plead their innocence one last time in court.
The judge presiding over each case will reexamine their crimes and decide whether or not to uphold the court’s initial verdict. For the Algerian, next week could be the start of a five year prison sentence. For the Iranian, it could mean his execution by hanging.
Youcef Nadarkhani, the pastor of a house church in Rasht, Iran, was arrested in October 2009 for opposing the education practice that forces non-Muslim students to read the Quran in school. Nadarkhani had argued that the Iranian constitution permits children to be raised in their parents’ faith rather than in accord with the State-institutionalized religion. For defying Iranian authorities, Nadarkhani was charged with apostasy.
Jason DeMars, president of Present Truth Ministries, said that Iranian officials used pressure tactics during Nadarkhani’s imprisonment as an attempt to coerce him to renounce his Christian beliefs, which included arresting his wife and threatening to seize his children.
On September 22, 2010, Nadarkhani was issued the death sentence for his conversion to Christianity and for inciting the conversions of other Muslims. Nadarkhani appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Iran, claiming he had never been a Muslim and therefore could not be found guilty of apostasy. However, a written verdict upholding the death penalty and ordering an investigation was handed down on June 12. A reexamination of the case to determine whether Nadarkhani will live or die will be held on Sunday, September 25.
“If [Youcef Nadarkhani] is found to have been a Muslim before his conversion, the court can carry out his execution,” said Tiffany Barrans, the International Legal Director at the American Center for Law and Justice.
Source: Assist News | Aidan Clay