Tutu urges Iran to free pastor facing death for apostasy

9th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Sunday called on Iran to free a pastor who faces the death penalty for refusing to give up Christianity and return to Islam.

"I would like to appeal to the Iranian authorities to free Yusef Nadarkhani, and allow him and all other members of minority religions in Iran to worship God," Tutu said in a statement.

"Forcing anybody to renounce his or her faith is an utter violation of our universal human and religious values, and a renunciation of God," Tutu said.

Nadarkhani, 32, converted from Islam to Christianity 13 years ago and became pastor of a small evangelical community called the Church of Iran.

He was arrested in October 2009 and condemned to death for apostasy under Islamic sharia law, which allows for such verdicts to be overturned if the convicted person "repents" and renounces his conversion.

His lawyer told AFP in Tehran on Thursday that a verdict was expected within days.

© 2011 AFP

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