To Hang an Apostate

Yousef Nadarkhani sentenced to die for changing his religion.

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Yesterday it was reported that Yousef Nadarkhani faced the death penalty in Iran unless, on the fourth and final opportunity, he recanted his Christianity.

This seemed too incredible to be true. However, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) speedily provided original judgments and unofficial English translations. And, on the basis of the translations, it was clear: a man was actually sentenced to hang just for converting from one religion to another.

CSW now report that Nadarkhani refused to recant on the fourth and final opportunity. If CSW and the source they are relying on are correct, this means that Nadarkhani can now be hanged unless the Court decides otherwise.

Associated Press are now reporting that Nadarkhani's highly respected lawyer says there is a "95 per cent chance" of acquittal.

If this is indeed the case, then a vile injustice may be prevented. But even for the matter to have got this far is revolting. As George Orwell said of another hanging, there is always an "unspeakable wrongness" about any judicial murder. And in the case of Nadarkhani, this unspeakable wrongness could be inflicted because he has chosen one religious form over another, and because he then refused to deny it.

The CSW campaign site is here.


David Allen Green is legal correspondent of the New Statesman

David Allen Green is former legal correspondent at the New Statesman.