As some may have been following, Youcef's case had been turned over to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is supposed to be making the final decision on whether Pastor Youcef will live or die. Khamenei has ultimate authority over Iran’s judiciary matters, and is expected to announce Nadarkhani’s fate by Nov. 2.
“The ayatollah can make any decision he wants. He controls the judiciary, who’s executed, who’s not executed, the military. The list goes on,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, told The Christian Post.
According to a statement released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Nadarkhani is not the only imprisoned Christian receiving persecution in Iran.
Iran has recently been cracking down on the Church of Iran, arresting pastors for “actions against the security the state” and transferring Christian prisoners to torture oriented prisons, so as to set an example for others.
According to CSW, one member of the church of Iran, Mehdi Furutan, has recently been transferred to an underground cell in the Adelabad Security Prison, which has a reputation for torturing prisoners.
“There is an increasing tendency by Iranian courts and officials to characterize legitimate Christian activities as crimes against the state,” CSW has said.
Although Iran’s court system strives to quell Christianity in Iran, the ACLJ contends that international pressure helps keep victims of religious persecution alive.
One Middle Eastern analyst told the ACLJ that international pressure “may be the only reason [Nadarkhani is] still alive.”
According to Sekulow of ACLJ, Iran’s court has a history of prolonging court cases in order to diffuse international attention. Therefore, CSW and ACLJ encourage religious leaders and various countries to urge Iran to stop religious persecution practices.“Our real goal is to keep [Nadarkhani’s] case in the spotlight,” Sekulow told The Christian Post.
Now there are new reports from Christian Solidarity Worldwide that Pastor Youcef and others have been given Islamic literature while in prison, which some say is a way that may be used to entrap him.
Katherine Weber at The Christian Post wrote the following concerning this situation:
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) identifies two motives for providing Nadarkhani with literature; either to instigate a Christian response, which would result in an additional charge of blasphemy in court, or to convince him to recant his Christian faith.
“It is no surprise that security agents, who answer directly to the Supreme Leader, would try to either do away with the case or provide an alternative justification for continued punishment,” contends the ACLJ.
According to Dr. Khataza Gondwe, Team Leader for Africa and Middle East at Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Christian prisoners who receive such literature have been advised to practice caution when responding to official interrogation pertaining to it.
Gondwe told The Christian Post that if prisoners read the literature and respond when interrogated, it must be “done very carefully because [the prisoners] may be open to further charges,” including blasphemy against Islam.
Please keep praying for him and the OTHERS in prison for their faith too!