Iranian pastor under death sentence freed

That Iranian pastor who had been sentenced to death in Iran (we blogged about him here and here) has been freed after three years in prison:

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released from prison in Iran, where he has been held for almost three years on charges of apostasy from Islam, as well as evangelizing. On its website, “Present Truth Ministries” quotes a Luther-like Nardakhani in court:

“During one hearing he was told to recant and he responded, ‘You ask me to recant. Recant means to return. What do you wish me to return to? The blasphemy that I was in before Christ?’ The judges responded, ‘To the religion of your ancestors, Islam.’ Youcef replied, ‘I cannot.’”

The effort to get Nadarkhani released seems to have been spearheaded by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ, obviously not to be confused with the ACLU). This American organization offers legal services when rights, especially religious ones, have been inhibited. The ACLJ was in contact with the U.S. State Department and was instrumental in making people aware of Nadarkhani’s imprisonment (especially through Twitter, with over 3 million people re-tweeting the ACLJ’s “Tweets for Youcef.”)

via Steadfast Lutherans » Steadfast Guest — After Three Years, Freedom by Pr. Timothy Winterstein.

HT:  Anthony Sacramone, who comments, “Most of us will never have to endure anything more onerous than a snarky remark or a sneer as the price of our faith, so take a moment to consider a man who clearly counted the cost of following Christ and persevered under terrible duress for three years—and who also had a wife and two young sons who no doubt suffered terribly as well.  Of course, Pastor Nadarkhani was already free long before his captors opened the gates of his cell.”

For more details, see this.

A new middle east war?

Our relationship with Iran is getting more and more dangerous.  As more and more of that country’s nuclear scientists are getting assassinated–with most people blaming Israel’s spy agency Mossad possibly with the collusion of the CIA–Iranian leaders are threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, that narrow gap of water through which much of the world’s oil supply flows.  This is in response to a new round of sanctions that would hinder Iran from selling its oil to the West.  America has vowed to keep the Strait open, and the navy is mobilizing.

Details from Anne Gearan of the Associated Press:

Tensions rising by the day, the Obama administration said Friday it is warning Iran through public and private channels against any action that threatens the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.

Spokesmen were vague on what the United States would do about Iran’s threat to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz, but military officials have been clear that the U.S. is readying for a possible naval clash.

That prospect is the latest flash point with Iran, and one of the most serious. Although it currently overshadows the threat of war over Iran’s disputed nuclear program, perhaps beginning with an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear structure, both simmering crises raise the possibility of a shooting war this year.

“We have to make sure we are ready for any situation and have all options on the table,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, addressing a soldier’s question Thursday about the overall risk of war with Iran.

For several reasons, the risk of open conflict with Tehran appears higher in this election year than at any point since President Barack Obama took office with a pledge to try to bridge 30 years of enmity. A clash would represent a failure of U.S. policy on several fronts, and vault now-dormant national security concerns into the presidential election contest.

The U.S. still hopes that international pressure will persuade Iran to back down on its disputed nuclear program, but the Islamic regime shows no sign it would willingly give up a project has become a point of national pride. .  . .

An escalating covert campaign of sabotage and targeted assassinations highlighted by this week’s killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist may not be enough to head off a larger shooting war and could prod Iran to strike first.

The brazen killing of a young scientist by bombers on motorcycles is almost surely the work of Israel, according to U.S. and other officials speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters. The killing on a Tehran street followed the deaths of several other Iranians involved in the nuclear program, a mysterious explosion at an Iranian nuclear site that may have been sabotage and the apparent targeting of the program with an efficient computer virus.

Iranian officials accuse both Israel and the U.S. of carrying out the assassination as part of a secret operation to stop Iran’s nuclear program. The killing came a day after Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was quoted as telling a parliamentary panel that 2012 would be a “critical year” for Iran — in part because of “things that happen to it unnaturally.” .  . .

Obama last month approved new sanctions against Iran that would target its central bank and its ability to sell petroleum abroad.

The U.S. has delayed implementing the sanctions for at least six months, worried about sending the price of oil higher at a time when the global economy is struggling.

A senior commander of the Revolutionary Guard force was recently quoted as saying Tehran’s leadership has decided to order the closure of the Strait of Hormuz if the country’s petroleum exports are blocked due to sanctions.

Panetta linked the two crises Thursday, saying an Iranian nuclear weapon is one “red line” the U.S. will not allow Iran to cross, and a closure of the strait is another. “We must keep all capabilities ready in the event those lines are crossed,” Panetta told troops in Texas.

He did not elaborate, but the nation’s top military officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, has said the U.S. would take action to reopen the strategic waterway. That could only mean military action, and there are U.S. warships stationed nearby.

via Tensions high, U.S. warns Iran not to block shipping | NewsOK.com.

Critics of the Iraq war said it was all about oil, a questionable claim, since the U.S. did not get oil out of the deal but rather hampered Iraq’s oil capability.  This war, if it happens, would be about oil.   Is that actually a better reason to fight than ideological reasons?

The story blames the Obama administration for bungling its foreign policy and getting us into this dilemma.  Is that fair?

Are you ready for another shooting war in the mideast?

Israel considering a strike against Iran?

Wars and rumors of war:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to rally support in his cabinet for an attack on Iran, according to government sources.

The country’s defence minister Ehud Barak and the foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman are said to be among those backing a pre-emptive strike to neutralise Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

But a narrow majority of ministers currently oppose the move, which could trigger a wave of regional retaliation.

The debate over possible Israeli military action has reached fever pitch in recent days with newspaper leader columns discussing the benefits and dangers of hitting Iran.

Mr Lieberman responded to the reports of a push to gain cabinet approval by saying that “Iran poses the most dangerous threat to world order.”

But he said Israel’s military options should not be a matter for public discussion.

The inside of reactor at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Kms south of Tehran, where Iran has began to unload fuel for the nuclear power plant

The reactor at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant where Iran has began to unload fuel for the nuclear power plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to report on the state of Iran’s nuclear capabilities on November 8, and that assessment is likely to influence Israel’s decision.

Western intelligence officials estimate that Iran is still at least two to three years away from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

Israel has long made it clear that it will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear capability that could threaten the Jewish State.

Publicly it is pushing for a diplomatic offensive against Iran – including the imposition of sanctions – rather than a military strike.

But prime minister Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that all options are on the table.

via Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu Considers Pre-Emptive Attack On Iran To Prevent Nuclear Capability | World News | Sky News.

For Iran’s saber rattling, threatening  both Israel and the United States should this happen, see this.

Iran’s plan to attack Washington?

ABC reports that officials have thwarted a scheme to attack the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Washington, D. C., a terrorist attack planned by the government of Iran!

FBI and DEA agents have disrupted a plot to commit a “significant terrorist act in the United States” tied to Iran, federal officials told ABC News today.

The officials said the plot included the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, with a bomb and subsequent bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C. Bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed, according to the U.S. officials.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in an announcement today that the plan was “conceived, sponsored and was directed from Iran” by a faction of the government and called it a “flagrant” violation of U.S. and international law.

“The U.S. is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions,” Holder said.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said the arrest of a suspect in the plot shows the U.S. will “bring the full weight of [the] law to bear on those responsible” and that “any attempts on American soil will not be tolerated.”

Senior Obama administration officials said the U.S. currently does not have any information indicating that either Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad necessarily knew about the assassination plot and said the U.S. will pursue a path of response that would not include the possibility of an armed conflict with Iran.

Shortly after Holder publicly announced the foiled plot, the U.S. Treasury announced it was initiating sanctions against five people allegedly connected to the plot.

The stunning allegations come against a backdrop of longstanding tensions between Iran and the United States and Saudi Arabia. In the last year, Saudi Arabia has attempted to build an anti-Iran alliance to push back against perceived aggression by Iran in the region.

via U.S. Says Iran-Tied Terror Plot in Washington, D.C. Disrupted – ABC News.

A link in the article cites a statement that the United States is not planning a military response.  But wouldn’t an attack launched by a sovereign government be an act of war?

Execution of Iranian pastor on hold, for now

Iranian officials say that the execution of the Iranian pastor who has refused to recant his faith in Christ is not imminent.  But now that they are accusing him of other heinous crimes–ones never mentioned in his actual trial and that are not even consistent from spokesman to spokesman–makes me think that his life is still in serious jeopardy:

It appears that Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will avoid the hangman in Iran for the time being.

Nadarkhani, once the leader of a 400-person congregation in Rasht, was previously convicted of apostasy — the crime of abandoning Islam and converting to Christianity — but Iran now claims that the death penalty reports that circulated around the world last week were unsubstantiated.

“Youssef Nadar-Khani [sic] has been charged with a crime and is in a prison based on an arrest warrant issued against him,” Gilan Province Judiciary Chief Mohammad-Javad Heshmati said on Wednesday, according to Iran state news agency Press TV.

“There has been no execution order. No conviction at all has been issued yet and it is up to the court to finally decide the verdict after studying his case,” he added.

Since news of Nadarkhani’s looming execution spread, Iran has been loudly decrying the pastor as “a convicted rapist and extortionist,” and the Fars News Agency said over the weekend that Nadarkhani was to be executed for Zionism and threats to national security.

via Youcef Nadarkhani Update: Iranian Pastor Safe From Execution, For Now – International Business Times.

Iranian Christian may be executed this weekend

Youcef Nadarkhani, sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity in Iran, has once again refused to deny Christ, and so he may be hanged as early as today.

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is facing the death penalty, again refused to convert to Islam to save his life.

Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009 for the crime of apostasy because he allegedly abandoned Islam for Christianity. As a pastor, Iranian clerics believe that Nadarkhani was preaching in order to convert Muslims.

Before his last hearing Wednesday, Nadarkhani had been given three previous chances to repent, and all three times he has refused. After his final refusal Wednesday, no verdict has been announced, but many expect that he could be put to death as soon as Friday.

via Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Death: Nadarkhani Refuses to Convert – International Business Times.

 

Youcef Nadarkhani

Read his letter to his flock.


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