Published: 11:00 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 08 November 2011
Imprisoned Iranian convert refuses to renounce faith in Christ
Country/Region: Iran, Middle East and North Africa
An Iranian convert from Islam to Christianity who has been imprisoned for the last ten months has resisted pressure to renounce his faith and instead tried to share the Gospel with other prisoners.
Noorollah Qabitizade was arrested
on Christmas Eve, 2010
Image Source: Mohabat News
Noorollah Qabitizade, a house church leader, was arrested on 24 December 2010, along with ten other Christians who had gathered at his home to celebrate Christmas Eve.
For the first month of his detention, at Dezful prison, Noorollah was not allowed to contact his family and was subjected to intense interrogation in a bid to force him to renounce his faith.
The authorities tried to get him to sign commitments pledging not to evangelise, repenting his decision to leave Islam and renouncing his Christian faith. They promised to release him if he would do so, but he refused.
Noorollah even tried to share his faith with other prisoners and organised prayer meetings inside the prison. This angered the guards, who consequently transferred him to another prison, in Ahwaz, over 160km away.
Noorollah’s first trial was held two months ago in Ahwaz; he was threatened with the death penalty and offered another opportunity to return to Islam to reduce his punishment.
Pastor Nadarkhani update
Meanwhile in Iran, officials appear to be trying to convince Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is awaiting a decision from the country’s supreme leader regarding his death sentence for apostasy, to return to Islam. He has been given Islamic literature to read by secret service officials, who told him that they would be back to discuss the material and hear his opinion.
The move has been interpreted as a bid to convert the church leader or possibly trap him into a blasphemy conviction if he says anything critical about the content.
The book given to Pastor Nadarkhani is a 300-page compilation called “Message of the Two Eras”, referring to the Old and New Testaments. It claims that Christianity is a fabrication and attempts to establish the superiority of Islam.
Pastor Nadarkhani’s death sentence for apostasy, which was issued last November, has attracted widespread international condemnation. The court that is reconsidering the verdict made the unusual move of referring the decision to Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei last month, after the church leader refused three opportunities to renounce his faith to secure an annulment of the charge.
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