Got news? Clock ticking louder in Iran

I’m still using Google News to search for mainstream news media reports on the fate of the Iranian pastor who faces the death penalty for being a Muslim apostate, even though he has never practice Islam.

Here’s the latest from this morning — from a conservative news source, of course:

Today, evangelical Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani refused to recant his Christian faith before a court in Iran for the third time. He will be brought to the court again for this purpose tomorrow, for the final time. If he refuses, his death sentence for apostasy can then be carried out. …

Those of us in the free world should press our members of Congress to speak up. Not only were American hikers accused of spying for Israeli recently released, but 13 Iranian Jews convicted in 2000 of spying for Israel and facing the death penalty were all released by 2003 — but only after voices had been raised in Washington and other Western capitals.

This note at National Review Online came from the Catholic activist Nina Shea, who directs the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute. Actually, that ID tag is severely lacking. Here’s a bit more biographical information:

Since 1999, Shea has served as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. She has been appointed as a U.S. delegate to the United Nation’s main human rights body by both Republican and Democratic administrations. …

For the ten years prior to joining Hudson, Shea worked at Freedom House, where she directed the Center for Religious Freedom, an entity which she had helped found in 1986 as the Puebla Institute.

Yes, we live in an interesting age when people do human-rights work at Freedom House (founded with the help of Eleanor Roosevelt) and then do the same work at the Hudson Institute. As I keep saying, defending the rights of religious minorities is not a left vs. right issue these days. At least, it shouldn’t be.

I have seen some editorials (Fox News here) on the Yousef Nadarkhani case, but no mainstream news reports in the American media. It is possible that I have missed stories in the global press. Please help me watch.

Over at the Washington Times, an editorial provided some additional background on why this case is so bizarre, even by the standards if Iranian courts:

In the fall of 2010, a Revolutionary Tribunal affirmed the death sentence, and the case was appealed to Iran’s Supreme Court. In June, the high court asked the lower court in Rasht to review whether Mr. Nadarkhani had been a practicing Muslim at the age of maturity, which is 15 in Iran. Prosecutors acknowledged that he had never been a Muslim as an adult but said that the apostasy law still applies because he has “Islamic ancestry.” …

Mr. Nadarkhani may face execution as early as Thursday. The U.S. State Department has registered a protest, but Tehran has shown no response to international pressure. Members of international church groups are fasting and praying for Mr. Nadarkhani, who remains committed to his beliefs even facing the gallows. “I don’t need to write anything further about the basis of faith,” he wrote to his supporters earlier this year. “Let us remember that beyond beautiful or painful feelings, only three things remain: Faith, Hope and Love. It is important for believers to make sure which kind of Faith, Hope and Love will remain.”

Thursday is tomorrow. Maybe there will be coverage by dawn, especially if the pastor is executed.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Sean McCoy

    Not sure if anybody else has pointed it out, but CNN ran something about it in December 2010:

  • Michael Vaughan

    It just became headline news on Fox News as of 4:13 PM EST. Giant picture on their main page and a full article.

  • Jeffrey

    If you are surprised by the crossover between Hudson Institute and Freedom House, you probably haven’t spent much time paying attention to FH which has become increasingly Hawkish and neocon influenced. It hasn’t been Eleanor’s FH In decades and has been the most conservative in those circles for quite awhile.

  • bob smietana

    One of the many downsides of shrinking newsrooms and a hyperlocal focused on news is that few reporters get to cover stories like this.
    The Tennessean had a front page story on Said Musa in February after Nashville pastors and church leaders began organizing support for him when he faced a death sentence in Pakistan. Right now there’s not much local involvement in Nadarkhani’s case, which makes it hard to write about.

  • Deacon Michael D. Harmon

    Well, if you have to be “hawkish and neocon influenced” to defend a man against being murdered for his faith, then bring on the avian predators and Jewish ex-liberals.

  • Dave

    Prosecutors acknowledged that [Nadarkhani] had never been a Muslim as an adult but said that the apostasy law still applies because he has “Islamic ancestry.”

    Over at The Wild Hunt we’ve had a short discussion over whether Islamophobia is racist. The above is highly ironic in that context.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Drudge Report had a link to a Fox News. com fairly long story by Joshua Miller.
    The mainstream media is always running down Fox News, but we need Fox News because the mainstream media’s favorite pastime is gross dereliction of duty on some categories of news.

  • Bill

    Dave #6 wrote: “Over at The Wild Hunt we’ve had a short discussion over whether Islamophobia is racist.”

    Under some circumstances it is entirely justified.

  • Passing By

    Islam is a religion, not a race. It seems to me that ”racist” imposes an American issue on a non-American context and could be called ”chauvinism”.

  • rob in williamson county


    The ACLJ web site is reporting that the death sentence has been overturned. No confirmation yet, but still good news!

  • Hector

    My suspicion is that Ahmadinejad is going to personally pardon the guy as a political gesture, so that he can pose as the lordly, magnanimous dispenser of mercy.

    Which is fair enough, I suppose, as long as the pastor’s life and liberty are secure, I don’t much care if he gets pardoned for the wrong reasons.

  • Michael

    I don’t recall Fox News reporting on the execution of three young men for homosexuality a couple of weeks ago. Or anyone at GetReligion thinking that that omission was poor journalism.

  • tmatt

    What an amazingly stupid comment, Michael.

    What does Fox have to do with anything? My post was based on Google searches of the whole mainstream news media and major commentary sites.

    Has Fox done an actual hard-news report? Beats me. There are only one or two reporters there whose work I follow.

    You must be a rather new reader in these parts. Search our site and you’ll find several cases is which we have stressed the importance of Iran’s execution of gays and the need for more MSM coverage.

    However, the mainstream — as a whole — has covered that story pretty well. Ironically, MSM outlets have not covered it as well as a host of human-rights sites on the left and on the right.

    As I have said many times, human rights (especially religious liberty cases) are of high interest to old-fashioned liberals who like to defend the ENTIRE U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.

    I think I need to pull this issue out front again today.

  • Mary Bennett

    I respect and support all paths to God. What the Iranian government is doing is deciding whether or not they will MURDER a man based on his religion. I am brand new to this website. I also happen to respect and support everyone’s right to privacy. If this same government MURDERED homosexuals, where is the outrage? About 75 years ago, we dealt with a guy named Hitler, and the world said, NEVER AGAIN!

    Why aren’t our various media covering this instead of the constant bickering of who’s in front in the Republican race and the coverage of the Michael Jackson trial? Why aren’t Americans interested in global news?

    Why do we have the attention spans of lawn furniture? How long did the starving people in Somalia hold our attention in July? Do you think they built a bunch of Subways and Burger Kings over there and now they’re just fine?

    Where are all the so-called Christians who were so scared of having a Muslim Center near Ground Zero? Why are they not advocating for this brave pastor who is about to sacrifice his life? Is his name perhaps just not quite, shall we say, Christian enough, for a lot of US Christians to rally around? HMMM? The Pope should have already made a statement about this brave human being; he is a saint in the making. I don’t think you are required to be a Catholic to become a saint, in my opinion. I’d much rather he remain a man than a martyr, though.

    If someone can tell me what I can personally do to help the situation, I will do it. I don’t know how to contact the media. I’m afraid I don’t know George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, or Sean Penn. But, if someone has an idea of how to make a difference please, please, let me know. I want this pastor to live.

    How can we make a difference?

  • Julia