Ecuadoran bishops grieved by Iranian pastor's death sentence

.- The Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador expressed its sadness over the situation facing evangelical pastor Yousef Nadarkhani in Iran, who converted from Islam and has been sentenced to death.

In a statement issued Oct. 7, the Ecuadoran bishops joined with dozens of institutions, countries and world figures calling for the reversal of the pastor’s sentence. Nadarkhani was arrested and imprisoned in 2009 over charges of “apostasy.”

Despite assurances from his lawyer, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah—who claims that the sentence is unconstitutional and that he will likely be spared—some fear Iranian officials will execute Nadarkhani to keep others from following his example.

The bishops of Ecuador sent a message to the Iranian ambassador to their country, Majid Salehi, expressing their sorrow “over the unjust treatment that this Evangelical brother pastor is receiving.”

They added that his “freedom to approach God is being constrained through totally unacceptable coercion by public officials in a way so radical that it borders on martyrdom.”

The bishops also emphasized that every citizen has the right to religious freedom as established by Iranian law. They then reminded the Iranian ambassador that Islam also should contribute “to the observance of human rights and to the establishing of peace.”

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