The International Business Times reports that a Christian pastor in Iran may be executed as early as Friday for the "crime" of being a Christian convert:
Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is facing the death penalty, again refused to convert to Islam to save his life.
Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009 for the crime of apostasy because he allegedly abandoned Islam for Christianity. As a pastor, Iranian clerics believe that Nadarkhani was preaching in order to convert Muslims.
Our own State Department should call for his immediate release. These are the moments when the government of this great nation must not be silent, and must be a voice for freedom for those who are defenseless. In free and civilized societies, the freedom to practice one’s religion is a fundamental right. Once again, Iran’s government is proving to the world, and to the Iranian people, that it will spare no means to suppress their God-given right to freely express their ideas and worship.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement this afternoon condemning Iran's conviction of Youcef Nadarkhani:
The United States condemns the conviction of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency, and breaches Iran’s own international obligations. A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities’ utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran’s continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. We call upon the Iranian authorities to release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.
For more on the plight of Nadarkhani, see Michelle Malkin's blog.