Today marks Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's 1,001st day in an Iranian prison for charges of apostasy from the Islamic faith and evangelism to Muslims. He is awaiting a death sentence that has been upheld numerous times by the Iranian Supreme Court. Youcef claims to have converted to Christianity as a child (Court documents claim that he converted at age nineteen) and never actually practiced Islam. In 2009, Youcef became aware of a change in Iran's education policy that would require all students to take a Qur'an course. Having two young children who would be affected by this policy,
Youcef went to the school and protested, stating that the Iranian Constitution gives freedom to practice religion. He did not believe his children could or should be required to take this course. Now, after his charges being changed from protesting to apostasy and evangelizing, our president is standing idly by as this man of faith is awaiting his death for refusing to recant his Christian faith.
Even upon being informed that his penalty may be made more lenient if he retracts his Christian faith, Youcef is standing firm and is refusing to apologize for his beliefs— even in the face of death. You would think that President Obama would be doing everything he can to free this man— a man who is showing the world what true faith is— but instead, the President is traveling around the country in a Canadian bus while spreading a message of “Made in America,” and telling of the countless times he has attempted to “work across the aisle” with those stubborn Republicans! The Pastor who is being portrayed by Iran as a criminal but who in actuality is a hero is being shunned by our President; it appears that his reelection is more important to him than possibly saving the life of a man who is showing the world what true Christianity exemplifies— self-sacrifice and faith in God.
It's time for Youcef Nadarkhani to be released from prison— and it's time for our President to take action against this blatant disrespect for the faith our nation is rooted in. Thus far he has refused to put pressure on Iran for Youcef's release; how much is it going to take for the President to do something? How is President Obama, who declares his own Christian faith, content with sitting on his hands while this Pastor is being ridiculed for his faith? This is yet another example of our President's hesitation to confront our enemies; the same Iran that is holding this Pastor hostage is the Iran that continues to taunt us daily by continuing to pursue nuclear weapons. The impudent disrespect Iran shows us is appalling. 1,001 days in prison for charges that can hardly be considered crimes is absurd; Youcef should have been freed long ago. Until we have leadership that will send Iran a clear message that we will no longer tolerate their games, this disrespect is going to continue. Our first chance to change our leadership is in November; but Youcef Nadarkhani must be freed long before that.