Yousef Nadarkhani, 33, is a Christian; he’s never practiced Islam, the faith of his family. He converted Christianity at the age of 19. A court ruled that he’s guilty of apostasy but he’s also being accused of security charges, running a brothel, being a rapist and being a Zionist. And now he faces death.
I am deeply disturbed by the dramatic case of the evangelical pastor [Yousef] Nadarkhani, whose life is at risk in Iran for the sole reason that he claimed the right to profess faith in which he believes… [T]he death sentence against Nadarkhani is a disgrace, the negation of the very idea of law. Freedom of religion is a fundamental and unbreakable human right and Italy intends to continue with conviction with its action in all relevant fora, in the context of the committed effort being taken forwards by the European Union, to ensure that it is respected on a global scale. The Iranian authorities would stain their hands with an atrocious crime if the sentence were carried out. It would force us to reach the bitter conclusion that religious freedom is being trodden underfoot in a country whose religion has shaped its very identity and its institutional framework. We therefore expect Nadarkhani to be released immediately and without conditions.