A Christian pastor in Iran who once was sentenced to death for challenging the school system’s Islamic indoctrination has been returned to jail there following a brutal attack in his home that included state agents tasering his young son, according to reports.
Youcef Nadarkhani, who had been charged with apostasy in 2010 and sentenced to death, but later was acquitted of the charge and released in 2012 following a sentence for “evangelizing,” is among several Christians who recently have been abducted by authorities and jailed, according to CSW, Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
All four – Nadarkhani and Saheb Fadaie, Mohammedreza Omidji and Yasser Massayebzadeh – had been accused of “acting against national security” by “promoting Zionist Christianity.”
They were pursuing an appeal when they abruptly were notified by text message of the rejection of their arguments, and they shortly later were taken into custody.
Mervyn Thomas, CEO of CSW, said the government’s actions were “unnecessarily vindictive” and “aimed at intimidating and causing fear.”
“Moreover, incarcerating Pastor Nadarkhani in such notoriously appalling conditions amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and also highlights Iran’s deeply discriminatory treatment of foreign prisoners. CSW calls once again for the unconditional release of Pastor Nadarkhani, Mr Omidi, Mr Mossayebzadeh and Mr Fadaie, who have been jailed on spurious charges, and for the annulment of their sentences,” he said.
Thomas pointed out that Iran’s constitution recognizes Christianity and states that no one should be “molested” for simply holding a particular religious belief.
He explained Nardarkhani had been arrested in 2009 after going to his children’s school “to question the Muslim monopoly of religious education for children, which he felt was unconstitutional.”
He was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death in 2010, a decision that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2011. In September 2012, he was released from prison following his acquittal on apostasy charges, but was found guilty on charges of evangelizing. The pastor was recalled to prison on Dec. 25, 2012, to complete the remainder of a three year sentence for evangelism, and was released on Jan. 7, 2013.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which has defended the pastor, said the Islamic regime’s intolerance was evident by the nature of the arrest.
“Plain cloth agents went to Mr. Nadarkhani’s home and attempted to break down the door to enter the home. When Nadarkhani’s son opened the door, the state forces threw him to the ground using electric shocker. Then they beat Mr. Nadarkhani with electric shocker and arrested him before his wife and child,” the organization said, citing a source.
Also, just two years ago, sources reported Iran’s Intelligence Ministry’s forces raided 10 house churches, including one where Pastor Youcef and his wife and three others were attending a church service. They all were arrested and later freed on bail.
Commented ACLJ: “For an Iranian citizen and father to be beaten in his own home – in front of his terrified family – is abhorrent. And to use a taser on a child is nothing short of savagery. And all because Pastor Youcef preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”