Citing President’s Christian & Muslim Heritage, Rutherford Institute Calls on Obama to Intervene in Execution of Christian Pastor in Iran

John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, has called on President Obama to intervene in the impending execution of Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor in Iran who was convicted of apostasy. In a letter to President Obama, which was copied to the Iranian ambassador, members of Congress and other key dignitaries, Whitehead urged the president to demand that Iran abide by its obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its own Constitution, which provides that “no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.”

The Rutherford Institute’s letter on behalf of Youcef Nadarkhani is available at

“If citizens in Iran cannot depend upon the protections of the most basic human rights provided in their own Constitution, then we must offer them the solace of a watching world that is willing to intervene politically,” stated John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.

“Surely we cannot stand silently by as this man of faith is martyred. Youcef’s imminent execution presents the United States with an opportunity, and, I submit, a duty, as a beacon of liberty, to interpose its influence and authority on behalf of such inalienable human rights as are inherently beyond legitimate government sanction.”

According to reports by the Assyrian International News Agency, Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was convicted of apostasy after protesting the government’s decision to teach Christian schoolchildren–including Youcef’s own 8- and 6-year-old sons–about Islam. Over the course of the past two years Youcef has spent in prison, he has allegedly suffered various forms of inhumane and irregular punishment, including a denial of access to his attorney, the arrest of his wife, threats to place his two sons in the custody of Muslim families, and the administration of drugs in an attempt to force him to recant his religious faith. Youcef’s sentence to be executed by hanging was recently upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court. It is reported that the death sentence may be carried out at any given time without advance notice. Youcef will likely be ordered once again to recant his faith, and if he refuses, he will be executed immediately.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He can be contacted at Information about the Institute is available at

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