Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani Still Alive; Execution Claim False, Group Says
Religion TodayReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2013 Mar 11
Amid reports that Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may have been hanged by authorities for his faith, a U.K.-based rights group says sources inside Iran have confirmed he is still alive, the Christian Post reports. Pictures purporting to show a man being hanged are being attributed as evidence of the pastor's death, but the man in the photos is not Pastor Nadarkhani, noted Christian Solidarity Worldwide on Friday. Even as reports that the 34-year-old pastor had been hanged re-emerged Friday after initially surfacing the week before, CSW said its sources confirmed Nadarkhani was alive. "While we are relieved to report that Pastor Nadarkhani is alive, we urge caution in circulating rumors which must be deeply distressing for his family, his congregation and for many around the world who continue to pray for him," CSW chief executive Mervyn Thomas said. "Given their possible ramifications, it is vital that reports of such a serious nature are stringently verified before dissemination." A court in Rasht acquitted Nadarkhani of apostasy on Sept. 8, 2012, but sentenced him to three years for evangelizing Muslims. Since he had already spent close to three years in Lakan Prison, Nadarkhani was released after posting bail. However, he was returned to prison again on Dec. 25 on the orders of prison authorities, and released again on Jan. 7.