September 29, 2011

William Hague asks Iran to spare pastor’s life

by Jan Harris

Foreign secretary William Hague has added his voice to calls for Iran to spare the life of Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death for apostasy.

Mr Nadarkhani, a member of the Protestant evangelical Church of Iran, was arrested in October 2009 after he defied rules requiring non-Muslim students to read the Quran in school.

His insistence that his decision to raise his children under his own faith rather than Islam, was allowed under the Iranian constitution, led to his imprisonment.

He was sentenced to death in September 2010 for apostasy, on the grounds that he had converted to Christianity and incited the conversions of other Muslims to Christianity, despite the fact that had never been a Muslim.

Mr Hague said: “I deplore reports that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Church leader, could be executed imminently after refusing an order by the Supreme Court of Iran to recant his faith.

“This demonstrates the Iranian regime’s continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom.”

A similar case is being heard in Algeria, where Siagh Krimo was arrested in April for giving a CD about Christianity to his neighbor.

In May, he was given a custodial sentence of five years for blasphemy.

His case has been re-examined and a final verdict is expected imminently.

Earlier this month reported a increase in executions in Iran, with 18 hangings taking place in just one week.

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