Religion

Iranian Pastor to be Executed: Won't Renounce Christianity

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

A stunning story out of Iran, where a Christian pastor is set to be executed as early as Wednesday for refusing to renounce his religion and embrace Islam. One wrinkle in this case -- he technically isn't violating any law in Iran.

According to a report from FoxNews.com, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 when he protested that his child was being forced to read the Koran at school. In September 2010 he was convicted of apostasy, which is defined in Islam as a rejection of the religion by a former follower of Islam. He was sentenced to death, even though the Koran does not specify any punishment for apostasy.

Iran also does not have any laws on the books for apostasy. The ruling was based on writings by Iranian clerics.

Amnesty International said the verdict included a stipulation that the sentence would be overturned if Nadarkhani renounces Christianity, but he refused to do so.

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When asked for a fourth time in court on Wednesday to repent, Nadarkhani 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, according to the American Center for Law & Justice.

"I cannot," Nadarkhani said.

A judge upheld the verdict, and now Nadarkhani can be executed at any time.

"Iran is unpredictable," Kiri Kankhwende, a spokeswoman for Christian Solidarity Worldwide told Fox News. "We can't say when it might happen. It's a very real threat, but we can't say when exactly."