|The Naderkhani Family|
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Post #198 - It's Always the Innocent
The following article ("Iran's Christian pastor alive, execution looming") by Lisa Daftari appeared on FoxNews.com, February 27, 2012:
The Christian pastor sentenced to death in Iran last week for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity was confirmed alive as of early Sunday, sources close to his attorneys told Fox News.
Iran’s government backtracked over the weekend, stating that no execution order had been announced for Youcef Nadarkhani, and that he was being held not for apostasy, but for rape and “other crimes,” according to the Islamic Republic’s state-controlled Press TV.
Nadarkhani’s attorneys believe the government toned down its rhetoric in response to an international outcry. The execution order, however, remained in effect, they said.
Supporters fear Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old father of two who was arrested more than two years ago on charges of apostasy, fear he may be executed at any time, as death sentences in Iran can be carried out immediately or dragged out for years.
Others fear Nadarkhani will be used in broader political negotiations as Iran endures crippling sanctions and international pressure in response to its nuclear agenda and rogue discourse. The number of executions in Iran has increased significantly in the last month.
“If a human being becomes a bargaining chip for the ayatollah, that’s not a situation that will lead to anything positive,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a human rights advocacy group that has led international campaigns to free Nadarkhani.
“When it’s a high-profile case, they test the international community’s reaction to these stories and how they change as geopolitical priorities shift.”
Iran’s judiciary, fearing its ultimate decision will have far-reaching political implications, has been caught in a bind in determining Nadarkhani’s fate.
Should the court release the pastor, it will appear disrespectful of the tenets of Shariah, or Islamic law, which call for an apostate to be put to death. If it executes him, it will face increasing criticism from the international community that continues to petition for the Nadarkhani’s release.
Dozens of human rights groups along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 89 members of Congress, and leaders from the European Union, France, Great Britain, Mexico and Germany have condemned Iran for arresting Nadarkhani and have called for his quick release.
Last week, the State Department and White House put out statements condemning Tuesday’s execution verdict.
Congress has scheduled a vote as early as Wednesday on House Resolution 556, which condemns the Iranian government and calls for the pastor’s quick release.
Nadarkhani converted to Christianity at 19 and came under the Islamic regime’s radar in 2006 when he applied for his church to be registered with the state. He was arrested and soon released, according to sources.
In 2009 he went to local officials to complain about Islamic indoctrination in his school district, arguing that his children should not be forced to learn about Islam.
He was subsequently arrested and found guilty of apostasy by a lower court in Gilan, a province in Rasht, where he and his family live.
The court gave Nadarkhani a chance to recant and return to Islam, but he refused.
Death sentences for apostates in Shariah Law are prescribed both by fatwas, or legal decrees, and reinforced by Iran’s penal code. Article 225 of the Iranian penal code states, "Punishment for an Innate Apostate is death," and "Punishment for a Parental Apostate is death.”
While all religious minorities in Iran, including Bahais, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, have faced various forms of persecution and political and social marginalization, the government saves its harshest retribution for those who have abandoned Islam.
It is not just for the stability of political systems or the security of oil supplies that a sustainable peace in the entire Middle East region is to be sought with unflagging commitment by all persons of good will. It is because individual "civilians" -- those who have actually harmed no one, persecuted no one, subjugated no one -- are the ones who suffer, even when we are technically not at war.
I offer prayers for all those who are collateral damage to the machinations of nations: the children who are impressed into bloody service by war-lords, the women who see their children mutilated by bombs, the journalists who place themselves in harm's way to publish the truth, the believers who wish nothing more but to be left alone, and the peacemakers who put themselves in the cross-hairs of guns to say -- with their bodies, if necessary -- ENOUGH!!
Haleh Esfandiari, Youcef Nadarkhani, the young hikers, the murdered Iranian scientists, the children held at Guantanamo, the bystanders when a car-bomb explodes, and those who die for lack of the necessities withheld because of economic sanctions -- all are scape-goats we send in place of the ones who actually make the decisions that are keeping us at each other's throats. It is for those innocents, too, that we all need to take responsibility, not just soldiers and airmen. Merely averting "war" -- the hot, shooting, cataclysmic kind -- is not enough, because death by a thousand cuts is slower, but every bit as cruel.