Representatives Joe Pitts (PA-16) and Keith Ellison (MN-5) released a statement today, condemning Iran for re-arresting Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and demanding his immediate release.
This bipartisan statement by both a Christian and a Muslim Member of Congress in defense of religious liberty sends a clear statement that regardless of faith or political persuasion, religious persecution should never be tolerated anywhere in the world.
Representatives Pitts and Ellison led the charge to pass a unanimous resolution last year in the U.S. House of Representatives demanding Youcef’s freedom. Today, they recognized that Pastor Youcef, who had been released late last year, was re-arrested on Christmas Day, noting that “it was particularly cruel to imprison him on Christmas Day.”
The Pitts-Ellison joint statement provides:
We were heartbroken to learn that the government of Iran has thrown Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani back in jail. Given its persecution of Pastor Youcef because of his Christian faith, it was particularly cruel to imprison him on Christmas Day.
During his previous imprisonment, Pastor Youcef was mistreated and pressured to renounce his faith and confess to crimes he did not commit. We want Iranian authorities to know that the world is watching his case.
The continued imprisonment of Pastor Youcef for simply practicing his faith is a gross violation of human rights. He should be released to his wife and two young sons immediately.
The ACLJ is incredibly grateful to Representatives Pitts and Ellison and all Members of Congress who have spoken out on this issue for their unwavering support of religious liberty around the globe and their leadership in the ongoing effort for Pastor Youcef’s freedom.
Not only has Pastor Youcef been re-imprisoned for his faith, but his Iranian attorney and an American Pastor, Saeed Abedini, also remain in Iranian custody. The ACLJ is continuing to fight for the release of all three men and for persecuted Christians worldwide.
Please continue to Tweet for Youcef, which continues to reach over 2.1 million Twitter accounts worldwide with daily updates about Pastor Youcef and his attorney, and sign our petition demanding the U.S. government take action on Pastor Saeed’s behalf.