Iran Says Pastor’s Crime Not Apostasy, But Rape

More news this weekend on Yousef Nadarkhani, the Evangelical pastor Iran has sentenced to death for apostasy.  The semi-official Fars news agency says that Nadarkhani is actually facing execution for several counts of rape, extortion, and treason — nothing to do his conversion to Christianity.   Fars quotes a government official criticizing outside media coverage for giving a distorted account of Nadarkhani’s trial.  “In our system,” the official is quoted as saying, “no one can be executed for changing his/her religion.”  The new allegations are surprising, to say the least, since the government’s brief in Nadarkhani’s appeal to the Iranian Supreme Court, obtained by Western news outlets, mentions only the charge of apostasy.  Observers suspect that the international  attention to Nadarkhani’s case, including an appeal from the Obama Administration last week, has embarrassed the Iranian regime, which is now seeking a pretense for punishing the pastor.  — MLM

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