The BBC is reporting that Iran’s Judiciary Chief, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani – who has been involved in determining the fate of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani – has “criticized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UDHR), stating that Iran made a mistake when it signed the UDHR.
Larijani defended Iran’s abysmal human rights record at the “Human Rights Forum and the Position of Iran and Islam” conference, reiterating Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s claim that Iran is the “freest” nation in the world.
The Iranian Judiciary Chief also attacked United Nations (U.N.) Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed’s report on Iran’s human rights violations to the U.N. Human Rights Council, calling it “lies and false reports of the past.” Mr. Shaheed’s report specifically highlighted Pastor Youcef’s case:
The Special Rapporteur was particularly disturbed by a recent ruling of the Supreme Court that upheld a death sentence for Yousef Nadarkhani, a Protestant pastor who was reportedly born to Muslim parents but converted to Christianity when he was 19 years old. The verdict reads that, unless he decides to renounce his Christianity, Mr. Nadarkahni will be executed by hanging.
Larijani defended the ability of Iranian judges to rely on Islamic Shariah law regardless of whether it contradicts the UDHR. This is precisely what happened to Pastor Youcef: the Iranian court held, in direct contradiction to international law, that under Shariah law Pastor Youcef’s decision to accept Christianity over Islam is punishable by death.
Iran’s judiciary has yet to issue its final decision on Pastor Youcef’s death sentence. In an effort to call more attention to Pastor Youcef’s plight, the ACLJ has started a Tweet for Youcef campaign. Over 1,100 people have signed up to allow the ACLJ to tweet about Pastor Youcef through their behalf. Tweet for Youcef now reaches over 250,000 Twitter accounts daily. You can learn more about this campaign and our efforts to save Pastor Youcef’s life here.