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Pastor Youcef and the Character of Iran’s Regime

Picture of Youcef Nadarkhani

The international community is considering risking literally millions of lives on the following proposition: The Islamic Republic of Iran will be a responsible international actor in its quest for nuclear technology and nuclear development. Yet where is the evidence supporting this proposition? Iran has been waging an undeclared war against both Israel and the United States since the hostage crisis in 1979. It arms our enemies; its weapons kill our soldiers; it threatens the world economy; it vows to destroy Israel, and in many ways behaves as if its ambitions are checked only by the extent of its military power.

But the character of a regime isn’t determined merely by its geopolitical actions but also by the way it treats its own people. It ruthlessly crushed the Green Revolution, and once again it is threatening to execute one of its own citizens because he won’t recant his faith. At the ACLJ we’re in close contact with Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s family and his defense team, and have launched a social media campaign to keep his name and face at the forefront of national and international media. More than 144,000 Americans have signed our petition asking Congress to pass a resolution demanding his release.

The White House’s statement is exactly right. It states, in part:

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms reports that Iranian authorities’ reaffirmed a death sentence for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for the sole reason of his refusal to recant his Christian faith. This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran’s international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values. The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right.

It was important for the president to note the obvious — this is “yet another” breach of Iran’s obligations. It is clear this regime responds only to unrelenting pressure. Let up for a moment, and it kills its own citizens. Let up for a moment, and it becomes the most aggressive, most violent regime ever to possess nuclear weapons. I have to return to the question at the beginning of this post: Where is the evidence that Iran is a responsible actor in world affairs?

This article is crossposted at National Review Online.

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