By Michael Ireland
A US Congressman has weighed-in on the sentencing of Iranian Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who faces execution as early as tomorrow (Thursday, Sept.29) for refusing to recant his faith.
Arizona Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-02) issued the following statement in response to the threat of death by hanging for committing apostasy.
"Perhaps it should not be surprising that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- who stood before the United Nations General Assembly last week and denounced the United States and has called for the annihilation of both Israel and the United States -- is now defying the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights and its provision to protect religious freedom," Franks said in a statement released to the media.
"Nonetheless, I am still compelled to remind an ostensibly modernized government that it is shameful and cowardly to kill an innocent person for merely practicing his faith," he said.
Franks stated: "The Iranian government would also do well to consider that this decision does nothing to advance the interests of Iran or the interests of the Iranian people.
"While Iran's leaders claim to uphold tolerance, the Iranian people deserve to know that their government is, at the same time, hypocritically disregarding one of the most fundamental human rights: the ability of the Iranian people to freely choose a faith of their choice."
He added: "I appeal to whatever semblance of humanity may remain in the hearts of Iran's leaders and urge the Obama Administration to make it clear, through every channel possible, that such grievous human rights abuses will not stand."
Today marked the fourth time Pastor Nadarkhani refused to disavow his Christian faith, after being threatened with death by the Iranian Supreme Court should he refuse four times to recant.
Congressman Franks is serving his fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the Judiciary Committee, where he serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and a member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law.
Franks is also a member of the Armed Services Committee, where he serves on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.