Condemned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s son received a birthday present – a visit with his father in an Iranian jail.

The visit also serves as a present for the pastor, whose birthday is next week, and evidence that he is still alive, reports the American Center for Law and Justice reports, which cited its sources in Iran.

ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said the development “is significant because it underscores what millions of people around the world understand – that Iran’s illegal imprisonment of Pastor Youcef, and threatened execution, is a violation of international law.”

“It’s also abhorrent because it separates Pastor Youcef from his wife and two young children,” Sekulaw said.

Sekulow added that the visit should “put to rest the propaganda which may have originated with the Iranian government – the false reports about his execution.”

“This development should also send a powerful message to Iran: The world is watching. We continue to call on Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Pastor Youcef from prison so that he can once again join his family in freedom,” Sekulow said.

The ACLJ said that Nadarkhani’s birthday is next week and that the Iranian pastor accused of apostasy has only seen his family a small number of times in the three years he’s been in an Iranian prison.

Even though Nadarkhani was granted the visit by his son on his son’s birthday, Center for Security Policy Senior Fellow Clare Lopez said this doesn’t mean the Iranians have changed.

“These Persians are incredibly sophisticated and know how to manage public perception and torture people,” Lopez said.

“In the end, allowing prisoners out of jail on ‘furlough’ or allowing relatives to come see them actually heightens the suffering of being separated from loved ones,” she said.

Lopez said the visit could be Iran’s attempt to gain approval from the international community.

“They’ll project the image of reasonableness when what this is really about is enforcement of Islamic law on apostasy,” Lopez said.

Youcef Nadarkhani

“Legally, Iran’s hands are tied. It cannot not enforce Islamic law and retain any legitimacy in the Islamic world or pretense of being a society under Shariah, especially now when Iran is locked in a titanic struggle against Turkey for leadership in the Islamic world,” Lopez said. “This is about credibility in the eyes of millions of Muslims.”

However, Lopez said international pressure can be effective, even with Iran’s mullah regime.

Tehran, she said, may eventually decide on a compromise, as Afghan President Hamid Karzai did with Christian convert Abdul Rahman and issue a finding of insanity, which does not carry a death sentence.

“That arrangement allows the opportunity for prisoners to describe the horrors of Iranian jail for the information and education and terrorization of the rest of the population,” Lopez said.

She said Iran may spare Nadarkhani’s life, but being spared death won’t be the end of his ordeal.

“Then he will have to be allowed to leave the country for someplace in the West where his life can be better protected from Muslims who will seek to kill him as long as he lives,” Lopez said.

The ACLJ’s Twitter campaign on the pastor’s behalf is at:

Nadakhani was arrested and convicted of apostasy in 2009 for allegedly leaving Islam, a charge he denied by explaining that he was never a Muslim.

But as WND reported, Nadarkhani’s Christian background isn’t enough, according to Islamic doctrine. Islam teaches that everyone on earth is born a Muslim

In the introduction of a copy of the Quran, published by Ansariyan Publications in Iran, it is “the parents who make him a Jew, Christian or Hindu.”

Therefore, even if Nadarkhani had never visited a mosque, when he became a Christian he left the Muslim faith whether he knew it or not.

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