Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 while attempting to register his evangelical house church in the city of Rasht. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, his arrest was connected to criticisms he made about the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran.
He was initially charged with protesting but the charges were later changed to apostasy and evangelising Muslims, and he was sentenced to death last year.
CSW has received reports that the death sentence has now been upheld by the third chamber of the Supreme Court in the Shia holy city of Qom.
Pastor Nadarkhani, who belongs to the Church of Iran, has been held in Lakan prison since his sentence was passed.
His lawyer filed an appeal last December but has now confirmed that the appeal was unsuccessful, although no official notification has been issued by the courts so far.
Johnston said it was a "devastating outcome" for Pastor Nadarkhani, his family and the Church of Iran network.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with them," he said. "CSW condemns the decision to uphold this verdict in the strongest possible terms. The death sentence for the charge of apostasy is not codified in Iranian law." ....
"Freedom to change one’s religion is a fundamental right which Iran pledged to uphold when it signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," he said. "Iran must therefore be urged adhere to its commitments under international law.”You can read the full article here
Meanwhile, the Cracking the Crescent blog is urging people to act for the swift release of this Iranian pastor, specifically through prayer:
Now that the Iranian Supreme Court has upheld his death sentence, he could be hanged anytime. Please pray for him, his loved ones, Iranian Christians, their oppressors and Iranian Muslims. The international community needs to put pressure on the Iranian government and it starts with us.
The blog added that Iranian law supports freedom of religion, stating, " The world should hold Iran accountable."
The workweek in Iran is Saturday to Thursday. The fact that it is the weekend in most countries doesn’t mean offices in Iran aren’t open. Please use Twitter, Facebook or whatever means is at your disposable to spread the word about Pastor Nadarkhani’s plight. His life should be spared and his freedom granted. Please pray for Pastor Youcef!
2 Corinthians 4:8-10: We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.