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Condemning Iran for its Persecution of Youcef Nadarkhani

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Res. 556, which condemns the Government of Iran for its persecution, imprisonment, and sentencing to death of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

Pastor Youcef is a 34-year old father of two who was arrested over two years ago for the crime of converting from Islam to Christianity. In October 2009 he was tried and found guilty of apostasy--and sentenced to death-by-hanging. More recently, the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the sentence.

Iranian law requires that a man accused of apostasy be given three chances to recant his beliefs and return to Islam. Pastor Youcef was given his three chances. In every instance, Youcef refused. Nothing, not even the threat of death, would discourage him from remaining true to his faith. He proved himself as religiously committed as he is physically, and morally, courageous.

Mr. Speaker, last September President Obama said, Pastor Nadarkhani has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for all people. ..... 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.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution before us condemns the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of religious minorities and for its repression of freedom of thought and of religion, and calls for the immediate release of Youcef Nadarkhani and of all other individuals held or charged on account of their religion.

The House of Representatives should stand in solidarity with Pastor Youcef. I encourage all of my colleagues to support this important resolution.

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