Iranians pull a switcheroo on charges against Christian pastor
At least this shows the mullahs are perhaps getting more sensitive to western criticism of their abominable justice system.
Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will be put to death for several charges of rape and extortion, charges that differ greatly from his original sentence of apostasy, Iran's semi-official Fars News agency reported Friday.
Gholomali Rezvani, the deputy governor of Gilan province, where Nadarkhani was tried and convicted, accused Western media of twisting the real story, referring to him as a "rapist." A previous report from the news agency claimed he had committed several violent crimes, including repeated rape and extortion.
"His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity," Rezvani told Fars. "He is guilty of security-related crimes."
Oh, really? That's not what the Iranian Supreme Court brief said:
In a translated Iranian Supreme Court brief from 2010, however, the charge of apostasy is the only charge leveled against Nadarkhani.
"Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32-years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19," reads the brief.
The brief was obtained by CNN from the American Center for Law and Justice and was translated from its original Farsi by the Confederation of Iranian Students in Washington.
It goes on to say that during the court proceeding, Nadarkhani denied the prophecy of Mohammad and the authority of Islam.
The fact that the Iranians went to all this trouble to try and show the pastor is a common criminal rather than just someone wanting to exercise freedom of religion is for the benefit of western news organizations. It certainly had nothing to do with assuaging the feelings of a population that supports death to apostates and stoning adultresses in overwhelming numbers.
The CNN report says the execution of the pastor is not imminent. Nor, apparently, is it final. This is going to be another drama that drags out for months with people wondering are the Iranian leaders going to act like rational human beings or fanatical zealots?
Don't hold your breath for the former.
"He (Nadarkhani) has stated that he is a Christian and no longer Muslim," states the brief. "During many sessions in court with the presence of his attorney and a judge, he has been sentenced to execution by hanging according to article 8 of Tahrir -- olvasileh."