Thursday, September 29, 2011
A man who converted from Islam to Christianity is facing the death penalty in Iran for refusing to return to his former religion
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, 34, of the Church of Iran, faces hanging after refusing a court order to renounce his Christian faith. The pastor had defied a request by the Gilan provincial court, in the Iranian city of Rasht, to repent. The married father-of-two was detained in his home city of Rasht in October 2009, while attempting to register his church. Supporters of the pastor say that he was arrested after questioning the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran. Nadarkhani was initially charged with protesting, but charges against him were later changed to apostasy - or abandoning Islam - and evangelizing Muslims, which both carry the death sentence. He was later tried and found guilty of apostasy in September 2010, and sentenced to death by the court in the city of Rasht.