Lawyer for Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Death for Being a Christian, Sentenced to Jail
The Islamic Republic of Iran and its Revolutionary Court regularly demonstrates before the eyes of the whole world its brand of Sharia Law.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death in the Islamic Republic of Iran for the crime of apostasy. He refused to convert back to Islam and recant his faith! The character and courage of Christ is evident in the heroic witness of this Pastor. Now, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, the lawyer representing this pastor, has been sentenced to nine years in jail.
Imprisoned Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
GILAN, Iran (Catholic Online) - Last year we reported on the former Muslim, now Protestant Christian Pastor in Iran named Youcef Nadarkhani. He was sentenced to death in the Islamic Republic of Iran for the crime of apostasy.
He was given a death sentence for becoming a Christian and then refusing to convert back to Islam under intense pressure. He would not recant his faith! The character and courage of Christ is evident in the heroic witness of this Pastor.
When asked by the Islamic judges to repent, he stated: "Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?".To the religion of your ancestors, Islam," the judge replied. "I cannot," the Christian Pastor said.
Now, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, the lawyer representing this good pastor, has been sentenced to nine years in jail. He has also been banned from teaching at Universities and practicing law. He is a human rights activist practicing law in a Nation which fails to respect human rights.
He recently told the Guardian Newspaper of the United Kingdom of his ordeal, "I was in a court in Tehran defending one of my clients, Davoud Arjangi, a jailed political activist on death row when the judge told me that my own sentence has been approved and I will be shortly summoned to jail to serve the nine-year sentence."
The Islamic Republic of Iran and its "Revolutionary Court" regularly demonstrates before the eyes of the whole world its brand of Sharia Law. It is engaged in clear and ongoing violations of fundamental human rights. What the arrest of this lawyer will mean for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is unclear. However, it is certainly not helpful.
The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in the God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience.
A December 2005 address given by Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia summarized the position of the Catholic Church concerning Religious Freedom as a fundamental human right:
"The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time."
"The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State. The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience."
"A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all. At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for - a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples."
The Fundamental Human Right to Religious Freedom is under a growing assault all around the world. We are facing our own version of that growing assault here in the United States of America. We must come to understand that we are a missionary Church living in a new missionary age and live our lives accordingly.
The persecution against Catholics and other Christians is escalating. Sometimes it comes from militant Islam, other times from the hostility of Marxist and Maoist ideology, and increasingly from the advance of the dictatorship of relativism and the rabid secularism which has no room for religious freedom spreading throughout the West.
We regularly report on this growing persecution against Catholics and other Christians all over the world. We are admonished, both in the scriptures and in the unbroken teaching of the Church for two millennia that we must stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted.
Jay Sekulow, the Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, recently posted an update on the urgent situation facing Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani at the ACLJ's excellent web site here. This is an excerpt:
"938 days. That's how long Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been imprisoned in Iran. His crime? He embraced Christianity and started a church. Now, with Pastor Youcef facing the death penalty, his situation is even more precarious."
"As we've reported, Pastor Youcef's attorney has now been targeted by the Iranian regime. He's been convicted and told he will begin serving a 9 year prison sentence soon. His crime? His work on human rights and his desire to help clients like Pastor Youcef.
"Pastor Youcef is a symbol of the persecuted church in Iran. The Iranian regime views Christianity as a political movement, subversive to their regime.We know the world is watching. And that's something that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who controls the fate of Pastor Youcef and his attorney, simply cannot ignore."
We agree with Jay Sekulow and are committed to doing our part in keeping the plight of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and the many other Christians facing the hostility of the Regime in Iran before the eyes of the world. We invite our global readers to pray for the persecuted Christians of Iran. We call on all elected leaders in the United States to fulfill their oath of office by speaking out on their behalf.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Iran, Jihad, Islamic Republic, Youcef Nadarkhani, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, persecution, Anti-Christian, Anti-Catholic, ACLJ, Jay Sekulow, Deacon Keith Fournier
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