Archbishop Williams expressed “deep concern” over Iran’s movement towards executing a Christian pastor who has refused to renounce his faith.
He joined a growing list including Britain’s Foreign Secretary, the US State Department, and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (an independent advisory group appointed by the president and Congress) of grave concerns over the fate of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the head of a network of Christian house churches in Iran. (from Dan Merica’s CNN story)
Pastor Nadarkhani, a member of the Protestant evangelical Church of Iran and the father of two young boys, held services in underground “home churches” in Rasht, a provincial town about 200km northwest of Tehran.
In 2009, he challenged the regime’s insistence that all schools should teach Islam. He was arrested in October that year and has been imprisoned in Rasht ever since. He was sentenced to death for apostasy by a court in Rasht last year.
The Supreme Court of Iran upheld the sentence last month, but with two provisos – it asked the court in Rasht to check that he had been a practising Muslim at 15, the age of maturity, and to give him three chances to recant.
Wednesday night an Iranian court gave Nadarkhani a third and final chance to avoid hanging, but he replied: “I am resolute in my faith and Christianity and have no wish to recant.”