If you thought the case of Troy Davis was unfair, take a look at the case of Yousef Nadarkhani in Iran. This has yet to be covered by any mainstream media outlets and so far Twitter has seemed rather lack-lustre. Have we all contracted death penalty fatigue?
Yousef Nadarkhani has done nothing wrong. He was arrested when attempting to register his church. For starters Pastor Nadarkhani is not even guilty of apostasy (converting from Islam). A court has ruled that he was not a practicing muslim, yet is guilty by very nature of his muslim ancestry. Even if one extends the definition of apostasy to accept that genetic inheritance entails automatic cultural inheritance, regardless of whether or not one has been brought up in the faith that your forefathers practiced, it still is not illegal under Iranian law. Pastor Nadarkhani has been sentenced via a loophole in the law, under a fatwah issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the man who decided that Salman Rushdie must die for writing a book. He was initially charged with protesting, but the charges were later changed to apostasy. His lawyer, Mr Mohammed Ali Dadkah, a prominent defender of human rights, is also in trouble; he has been sentenced to nine years in jail and a ten year ban on practicing law or teaching at a university for “actions and propaganda agains the Islamic regime”.
Perhaps we are more accustomed to breaches of human rights in countries that don’t operate under a Western democracy? Perhaps we think that protesting is futile? Perhaps we are culturally racist, we have lower expectations of those with differing beliefs, despite the fact that we share a common humanity? Whatever the reason, we need to pray for Pastor Nadarkhani and his family.
At this point the need for action is far more pressing than a dissemination of why no-one in the Western world seems remotely interested. I have sent a carefully and courteously worded email to the Iranian embassy. Please feel free to C&P the text into this link and do the same.
Dear Your Excellency, the Ambassador of Iran,
I write to express my concern with regards to the latest developments in the case of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani who faces imminent execution for his refusal to recant his Christian faith.
It is my hope that the Iranian judiciary will cease to pursue their current course of action against Pastor Nadarkhani and will acquit him of all charges. His execution would put Iran in breach of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which Article 18 includes a provision for the right to “have or adopt” a religion. This has been interpreted authoritatively by the UN Human Rights Committee as including the right to change one’s religion.
As I am sure Your Excellency is aware, Iran’s constitution sanctions Christianity as a legitimate minority faith and asserts that Christians are allowed to freely carry out their religious rites. Article 23 states that no-one may be “reprimanded simply because of having a certain belief”.
If Pastor Nadarkhani were to be executed, it would constitute a gross miscarriage of justice on grounds on violating his basic human rights, particularly when he is not in contravention of any domestic or international law.
I would be extremely grateful if you could pass this appeal for justice for Pastor Nadarkhani to the relevant officials of the Iranian government, as a matter of urgency. Pastor Nadardkhani must be released to his family immediately.
I should like to thank you for your prompt action in this matter.
The other thing you can do is telephone the Iranian embassy on 020 7225 3000 to express your concern and support. You can also try 020 7937 5225, if you are unable to get through. Please fill in this form, to let the campaign know how you got on. And keep praying. Let’s storm heaven on this one.