By Dan Wooding — Originally published in Assist News Service
Yesterday (April 11, 2012), was Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s birthday, and sources in Iran confirm that he is still alive. Thirty-five years ago, on the 23rd of the Farvardin month of the Persian Calendar, Youcef was born in Iran.
Tiffany Barrans, writing for the American Center For Law And Justice (ACLJ) , said, “This is the third birthday that Pastor Youcef has been forced to celebrate behind bars, condemned to death in Iran for apostasy – becoming a Christian in a regime governed by Shariah (Islamic) law.
“Tomorrow, marks exactly two and a half years of imprisonment – 913 days illegally held in prison for his faith.”
She went on to say that both the Iranian Constitution and the International Declaration of Human Rights, of which Iran is a signatory, not only forbid executing someone for their faith but expressly protect religious freedom. Despite these assurances of religious freedom, Iran continues to imprison Pastor Youcef indefinitely for charges related solely to the exercise of his faith.
“Today, Christians and supporters of Pastor Youcef all around the world are holding a fasting and prayer vigil for the persecuted pastor to bring attention to his plight. Just last week, hundreds of Christians and supporters of religious liberty attended a vigil and march for Pastor Youcef’s release in Hamburg, Germany,” said Ms. Barrans.
“These are just a few examples of the increasing international pressure being placed on Iran to release Pastor Youcef. Nations like the United Kingdom, Brazil, and many others are directly demanding that Iran immediately and unconditionally release Pastor Youcef.”
She said that the ACLJ’s Tweet for Youcef campaign is now reaching nearly 1.5 million Twitter accounts around the world each day with updates about Pastor Youcef. His story has reached over 91 percent of the United Nations member states, including Iran. The Tweet for Youcef Brazil campaign in Portuguese also continues to see tremendous growth.
“Even with this increasing international pressure on Iran for Pastor Youcef’s release, it is critically important to remember that Pastor Youcef is still in an Iranian prison under a death sentence that could be carried out at any time,” she continued. “The only reason that he is still alive today is because of the international outcry against this abhorrent situation. It is not enough that Iran remove his death sentence, rather we must demand his ultimate and unconditional freedom.”
She concluded by saying, “Please continue to pray for Pastor Youcef. As a Birthday present for Pastor Youcef and symbol of solidarity for those persecuted for their faith, please let the world know that you support Pastor Youcef by signing up to Tweet for Youcef today. Just go to: http://aclj.org/nadarkhani “
Happy Birthday Pastor Youcef!