Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice has been following Pastor Yousef’s case closely, and has exposed the fraud that is the sudden change of charges against him. His latest update says:
In a troubling development, Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s attorney, Mohammed Ali Dadkha, has acknowledged the possibility of the charges against him being changed. Recall, throughout the last two years and most recently at the Iranian Supreme Court, Pastor Nadarkhani was on trial for apostasy and nothing else. Now, as Fox News reported, the Iranian government is claiming that Pastor Nadarkhani was charged with a number of crimes including being a threat to national security and a Zionist, but not apostasy.
The charge of being a Zionist and thus a traitor, terms that imply he is some kind of spy for Israel and opponent of the Islamic Republic, is among the most serious accusations that can be made in Iran. Unfortunately, we know that this is the charge Iran levies to justify executing people who were actually arrested, imprisoned, and tried on completely different charges. While these new charges may be, as I said before, an attempt to deflect media and international attention, the fact that it is possible the Pastor could actually face these charges means that his life is in more danger now than it has been at any other time since the trial began.
It is also becoming more difficult to confirm that he is still alive. Throughout Pastor Nadarkhani’s two-year imprisonment, he has traditionally only been permitted to have one visitor per week. This is one barrier we have to overcome each day when we try to get solid confirmation that he is alive. We can confirm that our contacts in Iran have reported that as of yesterday evening, Pastor Youcef was still alive, but that is becoming more and more difficult to confirm each day.
The ACLJ has a petition to Secretary of State Clinton on its website that you can sign to support Pastor Yousef. It asks her to speak out as forcefully as possible on his behalf. She has already spoken at least once, but it can’t hurt to ask her to keep the pressure on.
I should note further that Dr. Faheem Younus of the University of Maryland writes about this case at the Huffington Post, and points out something that he strenuously disagrees with, but which is nonetheless a frightening reality:
A 2011 Pew survey showed that 86% of Jordanians, 84% of Egyptians, 76% of Pakistanis, 51% of Nigerians and 30% of Indonesians supporting death penalty for apostasy. Remember, there are well over 500 million Muslims just in these five countries. In corporate terms, that’s like 350 employees who have never read (or misread) their company’s policy and procedures manual: The Quran.
The Quran refers to apostasy several times (2:217, 3:86-90, 4:137, 9:66, 9:74, 16:106-109, 4:88-91, 47:25-27) and yet never prescribes any worldly punishment for it, let alone death.
So how do millions of Muslims justify such a barbaric act in the name of Islam? Well, because their clerics claim that leaving Islam is not just apostasy, but treason – a crime punishable by death.
Dr. Younus says this is “nonsense,” and in Western terms (and even from the standpoint of an enlightened Islam) that is certainly true. But in some strains of Islam (and particularly in the Khomeinist form of Shia), there is virtually no distinction between the faith and the state that embodies the ummah. So from the standpoint of the Iranian government, apostasy=treason, which means that they can justify such a charge against Pastor Yousef, even if they put it in terms (Zionism?) that are patently ridiculous. As I said in my last post, the threats against him are meant to control an increasingly restive population, so I suspect that without divine intervention this is going to come down to a political calculation. What’s more important: avoiding international condemnation, or sending a message to any Muslims who might be considering Christianity?