Jubilee Campaign’s Netherlands Branch has launched SaveNadarkhani.com to raise awareness of about Yousef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor who was condemned to death for converting from Islam to Christianity. Over the past several years Pastor Yousef has endured torture, threats to his life, and finally a death sentence for simply following the faith he sincerely holds. Infuriated and threatened by his refusal to deny Christ the Iranian authorities imprisoned his wife and threatened his children. Then they publicly condemned him to death for apostasy, the first such condemnation in twenty years. As the clock ticks down toward Yousef’s execution, Jubilee Campaign is collecting signatures calling for Yousef’s release which we will deliver to the Iranian embassy in the Netherlands, one of the last Iranian embassies left in the free world.
A History of Neglect
For years the West has failed to effectively respond to Iran’s ongoing human rights abuses, particularly the ones relating to religious freedom. Instead, the U.S. in particular chose to focus on the nuclear issue to the detriment of the human rights agenda. While the talks and pressure have utterly failed to deter Iran from its nuclear ambitions this tactic has communicated to Iran’s leaders that the West does not particularly care about religious freedom in Iran.
However, the news of Pastor Yousef’s death sentence drew an overwhelming response from people throughout the free world. The Government of Iran fell back on classic Big Lie tactics common to oppressive governments. False charges of rape and espionage were created out of whole cloth, and Iranian embassies around the world posted press releases “explaining” the Nadarkhani case. Faced with an impending international incident, the local court which condemned Pastor Yousef to death appealed for judgement from the highest authority in Iran, the Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Khamenei.
The Dictator’s Dilemma
Understand that if ever there was a judicial decision that is purely political, this is it. The Ayatollah Khamenei does not wish to cause an international incident, especially at a time when relations between the west and Iran are already so strained. However he cannot afford to appear to pander to a Christian, particularly when Iran’s internal political scene is so vigorous. Khamenei did not get to be the undisputed ruler of one of the world’s most oppressive governments by being foolish.
Confronted with an unexpected international response while simultaneously dealing with strident internal extremists, Khamenei is trying to wait out the storm. According to the last reports we have received, Nadarkhani’s fate will be announced during late December, at the height of the holiday season. The fickle nature of the western public has helped dictators in the past and it could help Khamenei now.
Iranian executions are carried out very quickly, often on the same day that the verbal announcement is made. If Khamenei makes the announcement around Christmas Yousef would likely be dead before the Western public comes up for air. This is the best case scenario for Khamenei. He communicates a brutal message to the Iranian Christians, soothes the extremists in his own government, and assumes that any Western response will be minimal.
A Call To Action
This course of action depends on the idea that we the people of the western democracies are fickle and unconcerned with the life of an poor pastor halfway round the world. We must show the government of Iran that we have not forgotten, that Pastor Yousef is not alone. Jubilee Campaign is collecting signatures for a petition which we will deliver to the Iranian Embassy in the Netherlands just before Christmas, when we expect the announcement will be made. We want to emphasize, the government of Iran wants Pastor Yousef dead. We encourage you all to go to the website and sign the petition protesting the imprisonment of Yousef Nadarkhani and calling for his release.
Click Here to Sign the Petition
Click Here to see tweets about #Nadarkhani and add your own.
Click Here to go to the Save Yousef Nadarkhani Facebook Page
Click Here to download a poster which you can put up at your churches or other public bulletin boards.
Click Here to download a background pamphlet explaining the history of the case.
Most of all, please continue praying for Pastor Yousef and for the all of the Christians suffering in Iran.