Iran Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani: Trial Date Set
A new trial date has reportedly been set for Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor on death row, for Sept. 8.
According to Present Truth Ministries, which has been closely monitoring the pastor's case, Nadarkhani will presumably be tried for crimes against security. "We assume by implication that this means the charges of apostasy have been dropped since the new charges have been issued, but we have no confirmation of that," the ministry said Thursday.
The 35-year-old pastor from Rasht, Iran, has captured the hearts of Christians worldwide as he continues to stand firm in his Christian faith despite facing the death penalty.
In his most recent letter (released in May) to those concerned about him, Nadarkhani stated, "I need to remind my beloveds, though my trial due has been so long, and as in the flesh I wish these days to end, yet I have surrendered myself to God's will."
Nadarkhani, pastor in a network of house churches, was arrested on Oct. 13, 2009, after protesting the government's decision to force all children, including his own Christian children, to read the Quran.
He was initially charged for protesting but the charges were later changed to apostasy and evangelism to Muslims. In 2010, he was sentenced to death and the ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court of Iran last year.
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According to Islamic Sharia Law, an apostate has three days to recant. The Christian pastor has refused to recant his faith.
Present Truth Ministries and other organizations have been appealing to the public for prayers and for support, urging them to contact elected officials in order to save Nadarkhani. Execution can happen any time, the group says, even without notice.
With the pastor still alive, Present Truth Ministries believes prayers have been working.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution earlier this year condemning the imprisonment of the pastor and calling for his immediate release.
READ: WHAT MILITANT ATHEISM AND ISLAM HAVE IN COMMON