Iranian Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is serving 10 years in Iran’s notorious Ervin Prison. The pastor is an Iranian Christian convert and leader of a Christian house church—an unregistered Christian church in Iran. He and three members of his congregation were arrested in July.
The arrests were based on his June 2017 conviction for “collusion against national security” and promoting “Zionist Christianity,” for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and two years of exile. The three other Christian converts also received long sentences for their religious activities. All four appealed their sentences in December 2017 but the appeals were rejected in May.
“We condemn both their lengthy prison sentences and this new miscarriage of justice.”
This is not the first time Nadarkhani has been imprisoned for practicing his religion. He was earlier charged with apostasy for converting to Christianity and sentenced to death. In early September 2012, he was acquitted of apostasy but found guilty of evangelizing Muslims, for which he received a two years prison sentence that he had already served by then.
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom chair Tenzin Dorjee issued the following statement about Pastor Nadarkhani: “We at USCIRF express our strong concern about the reports of Pastor Nadarkhani and his congregants’ arrest. Pastor Nadarkhani and his fellow church members should be immediately and unconditionally released and be permitted by the Iranian government to peacefully exercise their right to freedom of religion or belief. We condemn both their lengthy prison sentences and this new miscarriage of justice.”
Since 1999, the State Department has designated Iran as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
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