With your effort, both through your prayer for Pastor Youcef and by urging for his release, we are making a difference in Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s life and for other persecuted Christians in Iran. This morning, ACLJ attorneys confirmed with Pastor Youcef’s attorney in Iran, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, that Pastor Youcef is alive and being treated well by prison officials. Mr. Dadkhah remains hopeful that our work and your participation in Pastor Youcef’s defense will lead to a positive outcome—his release.
As we previously reported, the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security sent security officers to visit Pastor Youcef in jail and provided him with Islamic propaganda. It was unclear whether the propaganda was an attempt to entrap Pastor Youcef into blaspheming Islam to justify continued punishment or whether it was an attempt to provide him an additional opportunity to recant his Christian faith. Today, Mr. Dadkhah confirmed that the security officials have not returned to discuss the materials with Pastor Youcef, and that Pastor Youcef appears to be in good health and spirits despite his tenuous circumstances.
Notably, the international attention on Pastor Youcef’s case is having an effect on other cases brought against Christians in the region. Mr. Dadkhah confirmed that the Iranian judiciary is proceeding with caution in other cases against alleged apostates. In defense of another Christian who converted from Islam, Mr. Dadkhah observed a regional court’s hesitation to bring a formal apostasy charge or harsh sentence for the man’s religious beliefs. Mr. Dadkhah said that he was certain the notoriety of Pastor Youcef’s case is behind the court’s reluctance in this instance.
We recognize that Pastor Youcef’s case has potential to greatly impact other religious minorities persecuted for their faith in Iran. We will continue to keep you up-to-date on this critical case, keep it in the media spotlight, and do all that we can to ensure that Pastor Youcef is unconditionally released.
11.9.2011 Update: Our sources have informed us that the Iranian court, which had requested guidance from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, told the local attorneys involved in this case that if the Supreme Leader does not respond to their requests for intervention within a month, it will issue its ruling. A ruling from the court could be out by mid-December.
Please keep Pastor Youcef, his family, and his Iranian attorney in your prayers.