Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani to be hanged
Sources in Iran are reporting that the execution order for Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may have been issued. An Iranian Court has convicted him of apostasy (despite never having been a Muslim: background here, here and here), and the execution is thought to be imminent. The present heightened tensions with Iran lend credence to this development: a high-profile execution becomes retaliation as the country endures crippling sanctions and international pressure in response to its nuclear agenda and fundamentalist rhetoric.
If the execution proceeds, it will be the first Iranian execution of a Christian for many years, and the fear is that it may (re-)establish the precedent for the execution of other Christians and religious minorities, of which there are many languishing in prison. According to Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ, Pastor Youcef's execution 'could be the catalyst for the extinction of Christianity in Iran'.
The world needs to stand up and say that a man cannot be put to death because of his faith. It is likely that the Pastor's life has been extended thus far only because og international pressure from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and 89 members of the US Congress, along with the governments of the UK, France , Germany and Mexico.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide are asking people to email the Iranian Chief Judge and to pray.
WE must continue to keep up the pressure: pass the word along vis blogs, Facebook, Twitter, whatever, using links, 'likes' and hashtags.
The greatest fear is that Iran is simply waiting for pressure to die down before quietly executing Pastor Youcef. The best chance for keeping him (and, indeed, the Christian faith) alive in Iran is to protest very loudly and forcefully about this. And pray.