Thursday, August 2, 2012

Opinion: The Religious Silence on Christian Persecution

Why isn't imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani known to activists, politicians and citizens in the West?
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
This month the Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani marked his 1,000th day of incarceration in Lakan, a notorious prison in northern Iran. Charged with the crime of apostasy, Mr. Nadarkhani faces a death sentence for refusing to recant the Christian faith he embraced as a child. He embodies piety and represents millions more suffering from repression—but his story is barely known.

Mr. Nadarkhani's courage and the tenacity of his supporters, many of them ordinary churchgoers who have crowded Twitter and other social media to alert the world to his plight, bring to mind the great human-rights campaigns of recent years: the fight against apartheid in South Africa, or the movement to assist Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate from behind the Iron Curtain. As Nelson Mandela represented the opposition to South African racism, and Anatoly Sharansky exemplified the just demands of Soviet Jews, so Mr. Nadarkhani symbolizes the emergency that church leaders say is facing 100 million Christians around the world.

Yet Mr. Nadarkhani has almost none of the name recognition that Messrs. Mandela and Sharansky had. --Ben Cohen and Keith Roderick, Wall Street Journal

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