Pastor Youcef Still Alive But Under Increased Pressure to Recant
Sources inside Iran have reported to the ACLJ that the Chief Justice of the Gilan Provincial Court in Iran is again pressuring Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani to recant his faith in Christ.
Last week the Chief Justice, in a private meeting, ordered that additional pressure be put on Pastor Youcef to recant his faith. Again, Pastor Youcef responded by refusing to deny his faith in Christ and reiterating to the Iranian authorities that he could not return to Islam because he was never a Muslim.
As we reported earlier this month, Iran has renewed its attempts to pressure and coerce Pastor Youcef to renounce his faith in Christ under threat of death.
Pastor Youcef remains committed to his Christian faith and maintains that he was never a Muslim. In June 2011, the Iranian Supreme Court upheld Pastor Youcef’s execution sentence for apostasy, but remanded the case to the trial court for a determination if he was ever a Muslim as an adult. However, the trial court, the 11th branch of Iran’s Gilan Provincial Court, determined – before taking evidence – that Pastor Youcef was a Muslim because he was born into a Muslim family.
At that hearing, when the Iranian judges demanded that he “repent,” Youcef responded, “Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?” The judges replied, “To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.” To which he replied, “I cannot.”
This court has ignored Iranian law (which requires a written ruling within a week of a hearing) and its own promise to issue a final determination of Pastor Youcef’s fate by mid-December 2011. Instead, the Iranian court continues its attempt to essentially make this case go away by refusing to issue a decision while it actively pressures Pastor Youcef to recant.
The ACLJ is actively engaged in the effort to save his live and secure his release. Learn more about how you can lend your voice to Pastor Youcef here.