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Iran: Pastor Sentenced to Death

Christians in Iran are reporting that Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani has been sentenced
to death for what is called a “thought crime.” VOM contacts confirm that the
pastor’s trial was held in recent weeks in the 11th Chamber of The Assize Court
of the province of Gilan, but a formal verdict has not yet been delivered by
the court.

Pastor Youcef, a leader in the Full
Gospel “Church of Iran” network, is one of several members of his church who have
been imprisoned. The Iranian government has also threatened his wife with life
imprisonment and has threatened to take away their two children, who are
currently being cared for by relatives. Pastor Youcef was arrested in October
2009 after protesting a decision by the government requiring that his son study
the Quran.

Media reports suggest that Pastor Youcef was transferred to Lakan prison,
which is supervised by the Political Police of the Islamic Republic. If a death
sentence is officially handed down by the court and Pastor Youcef is executed,
his would be the first judicial execution of a Christian in Iran in two
decades.

This arrest is the latest in a series of arrests of believers in Iran in the
past year. Eighty-three Christians are known to have been arrested in Iran since
the beginning of 2010. Of those, 65 were subsequently released, but 18 are still
believed to be in custody.

The Voice of the Martyrs stands with and supports persecuted believers in
Iran. VOM encourages you to pray for Pastor Youcef, his family and other
believers in prison. Ask God to protect them and to embolden them to proclaim
his name in the face of great persecution.

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