The fight to save the life of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death in Iran for his faith, is truly uniting people of all faiths – atheists too – and political persuasions across the world.
We have seen statements calling on Iran to release this persecuted pastor from President Obama’s White House, Secretary Clinton’s State Department, and Republican presidential campaigns. Governor Mitt Romney was one of the first political leaders to call for Pastor Nadarkhani’s freedom, calling Iran’s actions an “outrage against humanity.”
Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA), an evangelical Christian conservative, and Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim and one of the most liberal members of Congress, are spearheading a congressional resolution in support of Pastor Youcef, H.Res. 556. Thus far, 61 members of Congress, including nine Democrats, have signed on to co-sponsor the resolution, “Condemning the Government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing of Youcef Nadarkhani on the charge of apostasy.” We hope and expect the resolution to receive overwhelming bipartisan support when it is brought up for a vote before the full House on Wednesday.
As the resolution states, “[F]reedom of religious belief and practice is a universal human right and a fundamental freedom of every individual, regardless of race, sex, country, creed, or nationality, and should never be arbitrarily abridged by any government.”
It has been remarkable to see how religious liberty can unite every side of the political divide. Liberal-leaning blogs like the Huffington Post have reported on the fight to save this evangelical pastor’s life, and conservative blogger Michelle Malkin has been tremendously supportive on this issue.
In fact, Jordan (a co-author of this blog) appeared on a liberal radio show discussing this very fact. Conservatives and liberals in America have truly joined forces to fight for Pastor Youcef’s life.
Nadarkhani’s case and the cause of religious liberty have done more than unite differing political parties; it has united religious leaders in America and around the world. In addition to Congressman Ellison’s public stand, Harris Zafar, national spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has joined the fight for Youcef’s release, calling Iran’s actions “a violation of human rights and . . . a violation of Islam.”
Diverse religious groups such as the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the U.S., and Hindu American Foundation have called for Pastor Youcef’s release.
Internationally, foreign leaders from the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil,, European Union and United Nations have spoken out on Pastor Nadarkhani’s behalf. The European Parliament, Australian Senate, Mexican Senate, and Uruguay House of Representatives have all passed resolutions calling on Iran to respect the basic human right of religious liberty and free Pastor Youcef.
At the ACLJ, we have witnessed firsthand this truly immense outpouring of support for Pastor Youcef and religious liberty as more than 165,000 people have signed our “Petition to Free Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.” In addition, our “Tweet for Youcef” campaign is reaching nearly 900,000 people each day in over 87 percent of the world’s nations.
It is amazing what can be accomplished when we refuse to let religious liberty become a political punching bag and all join forces to stand up for freedom to believe, or not believe, across the globe.
We urge every member of Congress to support the resolution in support of Pastor Youcef, and ask everyone to pray for Pastor Youcef, utilize the ACLJ’s “Tweet for Youcef” program, and share his story with friends and family.
The Washington Post’s “On Faith” deserves thanks for publishing, “some of the first major media coverage of Pastor Nadarkhani’s case since his appeal was rejected” by Iran’s Supreme Court on September 21st, 2011 and for highlighting his “pending death sentence” September 27th.
Jordan Sekulow is Executive Director of the American Center for Law & Justice and writes for On Faith’s blogging network at the Washington Post. Matthew Clark is an attorney for the ACLJ. Anna Sekulow is Director of Digital Policy for the ACLJ and creator of “Tweet for Youcef.”