No Celebrity Outrage for Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.


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When it comes to publicly protesting the sentences of death row inmates, celebrity outrage for a convicted cop-killer is off the charts, but a Christian pastor in Iran about to die for his beliefs doesn’t even rate a “tweet.”

Last month Troy Davis, convicted of the 1989 murder of Georgia officer Mark MacPhail, the married father of two, was executed for his crimes despite a wave of urgent protests on the part of celebrities proclaiming his innocence and horrified by his imminent execution. Kim Kardashian, P. Diddy, Russell Simmons, and Alec Baldwin were among the many stars who felt that the evidence of his guilt was insufficient to overcome reasonable doubt (Ann Coulter was not among the doubtful – in her recent column, she detailed the overwhelming evidence condemning Davis and described him as “the media’s new baby seal”).

The celebs used their substantial platforms like the social media network Twitter to raise awareness about the case and demand clemency. “If Troy Davis is executed in Georgia it will be a crime,” “tweeted” novelist Salman Rushdie, himself still living under a death fatwa for his book The Satanic Verses, denounced as blasphemous by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini the same year as MacPhail’s murder. (Contrary to a common assumption, the fatwa has never been rescinded; Iranian authorities have said merely that they have no intention of carrying out Rushdie’s sentence.)

But the celebrity silence regarding an even more outrageous and clearcut injustice is deafening. At any moment, Iranian Christian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani may be killed because he refuses to renounce his Christianity and embrace the Islam of his ancestors, which he maintains he has never followed as an adult. His “crime” does not even exist in the Iranian penal code, and no one has been executed in Iran for apostasy since 1990. But the judge has upheld his conviction and sentence based on the religious writings of clerics including Khomeini, unless Nadarkhani – like MacPhail, the married father of two – recants his faith, which he has refused to do on four official occasions before the judge. Even if his execution is commuted, he could still face life in prison. And even if released, he would still be in mortal danger. “In Iran about 18 years ago, they had released a pastor, but then came and assassinated him and his bishop later,” said a Member of the Council of Elders for the Church of Iran.

The pastor of a 400-member Christian “house church,” Nadarkhani has been imprisoned since October 2009 when he complained about his son being forced to read the Koran at school. His wife, also arrested in an attempt to pressure her husband to “return” to Islam, was released a year ago. “Let believers, who are heirs of the glory, be examples for others in order to be a witness of the power of Christ for the world and the future,” he recently wrote from prison, in a testament to his belief.

The couple is not alone in terms of Iran’s persecution of its Christian minority. Between June 2010 and January of this year, 202 Christians were arrested solely for practicing their faith. They face torture in prison, violent abuse outside prison, and sometimes disappearance altogether. “We have very little leverage in Iran,” religious civil rights advocate Rev. Keith Roderick says. “[Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is at war with the Christian church there, but our influence has diminished.”

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  • Lavie

    This is soooooooooooooo sad :( and to think so many of us who are free to practice our faith without persecution take it so lightly while these ppl face death and still hve no shame proclaiming it! I'll def b prayn 4 him.

    • Deidre

      I am a Christian and I believe in JESUS CHRIST as SAVIOUR of the world. HE LOVES all peoples. Even Muslims!! I would only HOPE that they could embrace the free gift of GOD's LOVE,as I do. PASTOR YUSEF, his family & church family are in my Prayers! I want to shout from the tops of all the Mosques in the world, "RELEASE ALL CHRISTIANS FROM YOUR PRISONS". CHRIST said, "the world will hate you, because they hate ME". But HE tells us to "LOVE our ENEMIES"…
      All my CHRISTIAN relatives have fought in many WARS so that we could have RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Muslims enjoy this freedom in the countrys we fought for. Please respect the SACRIFICE of all these men and women who gave so much so that all peoples could have the fullness of all FREEDOMS, everywhere!!!!!

  • Chezwick_mac

    We have to be careful about the many possible twists that may occur with this story: One in particular…

    There is paradigm that was developed in Pakistan, of how to dispose of apostates and blasphemers without incurring the wrath of the so-called international community.

    A Pakistani air force officer was arrested for converting to Christianity in the 1980s. After a great deal of international pressure, the man was finally released, only to be shot moments later outside the jailhouse by an "unknown" passerby.

    And a Christian boy was arrested in the 90s for writing blasphemous words about Muhammad. He was later found to be illiterate, rendering the charges null and void. Lo and behold, a week or so later, he and a Muslim playmate reportedly stumbled upon a man engaged in an act of perversion. The playmate was left unharmed, but the Christian was shot and killed. Incredulously, the Vatican sent an investigator to Pakistan and was satisfied with the official version of what happened.

    So be forewarned: It's very possible that Iran might succumb to global outrage and release Pastor Nadarkhani. But don't be surprised if he is murdered shortly thereafter by an "unknown" attacker.

    This would provide those in charge in Tehran with plausible deniability,…while at the same time allowing them to faithfully adhere to their prophet's commandment that "he who discards his Islamic religion, kill him."

    • kafir4life

      Isn't islam that gutter cult that was invented by a madman named mohamat? Is it true that he wrote his filth, the koran, in feces following sex with and a meal of his favorite pig, or papa as he liked to call him?
      Just curious.

      allahu snackbar!

  • john in cheshire

    Until islam is destroyed, there will be no peace in the world.

    • BIG IRISH

      Absolutely!…there has never been peace with islam – not now – nor ever will be – like a cancer it has to be cut out and discarded

  • veda kahn

    Let humanity be rid of ALL religions.
    Peace and love can only stem from individual morality.

    • Trish

      Stalin and Mao tried that. It didn't work out too well.

      • Guest

        Morality springs from religion.

        • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

          Centipedes spring from a toilet.

          • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

            "The cross is Mexico. Mexico is the walnut, the acorn, the rainbow.." You're speaking nonsense.

          • kafir4life

            Flipside drinks from a toilet.

    • Dan

      PLease come down from the clouds for a moment and stick to the point of the story which is a man dying for a set of peaceful beliefs. It does not matter whether they are religious or secular. Point your nose in the direction of the aggressor.

    • jay martin

      Yes, let's rid of all religions. Jesus Christ never intended man made religion, Christ was the creator dying for His creation, as the last sacrifice, to offer you a gift you could never repay. The only sacrifice we have to make is the sacrifice of sin, acceptance of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, resurrection/defeat over death (satan) for the redemption of our filthy sin, so that we could stand before a Holy God on judgement and be allowed into the kingdom of heaven upon when we die. Rejecting this gift is a slap in God's face, and is deserving of Hell- which was never created for man, but for lucifer and his followers.

  • jeriwho

    What an incredible straw man! What does Troy Davis even have to do with Yousef Nadarkhani? Celebrities got on board with Troy Davis because people appealed to them to make his case public. But Christians don’t run to celebrities to save the saints of Jesus Christ. To do so would be a shocking disgrace, a pandering to the silly notions of this world. And if you think those celebrities who spoke on behalf of Troy Davis discovered his case all by themselves, while reading the newspaper, think again. You cannot possibly be that naive.

    I think Davis was innocent. And I think Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is a godly and righteous man. But I don’t want celebrities turning the persecution of a saint of God into a PR fest. No thank you. The Unites States government has expressed their concern for Yousef Nadarkhani, which is right and good for them to do. But Christians don’t place their faith in celebrities, and I can think of no worse disgrace than for any Christian to go running to a celebrity for help in this matter.

    And I cannot figure out why you are blaming America because its dim bulb celebrities didn’t grab the PR opportunity to speak for this pastor. Thousands of Americans are urging our government to do what it can to intervene, and we are following the case without any help from celebrities. We don’t need the rich and the famous to urge true justice and peace onto governments. Their presence in matters they do not even comprehend is really just an embarrassment, and I wish they would stick to what they know: acting and singing.

    • Guest

      Perfect example of an incoherent comment.

    • T Dawson

      I have to say, I completely disagree with the perspective in this post.

      • Amused

        Sometimes chezwick_Mac spurts out a bit of primal intelligence …..but most times NOT .

        • Amused

          ..and speaking of American luminaries speaking out on this , where's the Koch Bros. ? Where's the perrenial christian ,Gov.Perry ? Hows about looney christian Bachman ? Where's the CEO's of Microsoft , HP , AT&T ….?? You guys just use this stuff as a vehichle for pounding those "leftie celebrities " , this sh_t has been going on for years ! All over the globe , wherever there are muslims with christians or hindus to persecute .
          Very transparent hypocrisy .

  • esperantominoria

    I really hope in the last case he and his family can get out of Iran.It makes me sick to know how indiferrent the world is.That is why I tell all I can about the evil that exists t people are indifferent.One way is to give out information.

    In the Koran it says 9X that Muhammad can NOT do Miracles

    And it also says Jesus could.That is one evidence Muhammad was pretending an angel spoke to him
    http://www.antisharia.com/2011/01/29/in-the-koran

    • johnnywoods

      Actually, a demon spoke to him. Allah is not a god.

  • maturin20

    Wait a minute. You want MORE celebrity involvement in political causes?

    • http://marktapson.blogspot.com MarkTapson

      Not saying I want more, just pointing out that their involvement is hypocritically selective. I'd prefer that the media paid them no attention at all, but it's an unfortunate reality that they do. So if celebs making a noise about this pastor help cause Iran to back down and bring attention to the worldwide persecution of Christians, then yes, I want more.

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        If one of your screenplays succeeded, maybe a Hollywood celebrity would shill for you, man.

      • Chezwick_mac

        Mark, you've done good….an extremely worthy cause. Keep plugging away.

        • http://marktapson.blogspot.com MarkTapson

          Thanks, Chez.

      • maturin20

        And if media attention causes Iran to bluster and posture and carry out this sentence, where the backchannels of diplomacy might have allowed them to save face, what then?

        • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

          once again your missing the point, and I think it is intentional. He's pointing out the hypocracy of the liberal left who moans about "islamaphobia" when a much larger problem is "kufirphobia".

          • maturin20

            What's kufirphobia?

          • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

            It's a irrational hatred of non-Muslims. Muslims seem to suffer from it since they insist on persecuting non-believers, burning their churches, raping their women, refusing to allow services to continue, banning their bibles, burning their books and spreading false rumors of "blashamy" against them. (Kufr is arabic for "non believer" i.e. non-muslim. )

          • maturin20

            Where is all this happening?

          • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

            Muslim nations. Source: http://www.jihadwatch.org, reported every single day.

          • maturin20

            Robert Spencer is a bad American.

          • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

            Ha! Why? Because he tells the truth about Islam and what Muslims do to non-muslims? You're hardly refuting that there is kufirphobia or that it is more rampant than actual islamohphobia (actual bigorty against muslims).

            As I said before, to you good is evil and evil is good. Your only showing your own twisted world view the more.

          • maturin20

            Because he profits off of fear, discord and hate. He harms the public good. He literally hurts you. You are his victim.

          • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

            Again you don't refute that he is telling the truth, you just call it "hate" to tell the truth about Islam and mulsims.
            Telling the truth doesn't harm the public good, it helps it.

          • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

            Also Mr. Spencer doesn't hate anyone and this is a smear.Reporting the truth isn't "hate".

          • maturin20

            It's sad to watch victims defend their abusers.

          • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

            it's sad to watch you defend lies about people and their work.

          • maturin20

            The truth needs no defense.

          • http://www.dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

            The truth needs to be PROVEN or it's not truith. You havn't shown how what Mr. Spencer says is false or that he hates people.

          • maturin20

            I'm spoiled for choice on where to start.

          • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

            Blah blah blah.

          • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

            "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale
            Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing." -William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 5

          • maturin20

            A good reminder for Mr. Spencer. And all of us.

        • http://marktapson.blogspot.com MarkTapson

          The backchannels of diplomacy? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Sorry, it always cracks me up when people talk about the "backchannels of diplomacy" with Iran. We have carried on the backchannels of diplomacy with Iran for 30 years and it's got us nothing. They don't care.

          They may indeed carry out his sentence, but it WON'T be BECAUSE of media attention.

          • maturin20

            Well, it did get us all that money to fund the Contras.

            Why not? Why is more media attention a good thing?

  • g_jochnowitz

    Another prisoner we should worry about and publicize is Maikel Nabil: http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=2

    He is on a hunger strike because he was imprisoned, probably for daring to be pro-Israel on his blog.

  • Ghostwriter

    If Hollywood wanted to do right by this country,they'd speak out against the execution of Pastor Nadarkhani. That way,they might actually earn some respect from their fellow Americans instead of scorn.

  • http://federatedrepublic.com/ Fed_Republic

    Religion is the root of ALL evil, period!

    Christians murdered and tortured Jews and "pagans", (one of whom was a foremost mathematician and astronomer of her time named Hypathia), in Alexandria, Eygt in 435AD under a murdering piece of trash called Cyril who was later made a freakin Saint by the Catholic Church!

    Muslims have been on murderous rampage since the 7th Century killing anyone who does not "submit"

    The worst atrocities against mankind have been committed in the name of some religious fanatic pogrom, that includes the National Socialist Demoncratic Workers Party, the NAZIs.

    Believe whatever stupid BS you want, but keep it to yourself and STFU around me, mmkay!

    • Concerned

      Let me correct that. The christian religion is the most peace loving religion and Jesus dies on the cross and yet said "Please forgive them". The catholic church chose to fight for political reasons and not because christianity teaches you to do that. Also we have to understand the earlier time period of wars to accomplish political and religious superiority versus today it is done for political superiority.

      I pray that the pastor is saved from this persecution.

    • http://dikaesha.pbwiki.com Foolster41

      You're ignoring the atrocities of Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao. As Concerned said, violence in the name of Christianity is COUNTER to the teachings of Christ, and rarely happens today, where as Islam teaches to subjugate the non-believer and is still followed today.

      Hitler called Christianity weak. he used Christianity to get people on his side, but he wasn't a Christian since what he did was COUNTER to the teachings of Christ. Also Hitler was into the occult and paganist religions.

    • jay martin

      Atheism IS a religion. It takes a great deal of faith to dismiss the historical, philosophical, and archaeological veracity of the Bible. To do so means you also have to dismiss every other book of antiquity. And why would anyone want to live a life accepting the notion that you are born, you live, then you die. A rather dark and meaningless outlook. But then hey, no Bible, no Christianity, no religion, no absolutes, and one gets to do, and any behavior goes. How convenient…
      If you check your history you will find that from the time of the crucifixion of Jesus until now, about 3 million people have been killed in His politicized name. Christianity does not teach violence and war. Now lets look at what the religion of atheism brought us in the 20th century alone: Adolph Hitler 6 million Jews and a world war that cost 20 million lives. Joseph Stalin killed about 60 million of his countrymen. Mao killed yet 40 million of his. Pol Pot and the SE Asian communists another 2 1/2 million Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians. Then we can talk about the tens of thousands killed by Castro. Not to mention Latin America and their experiment with Marxism (atheism). Then there is the 'crusades chestnut where the known world was at war with who else but muslims who refused Christians and Jews access to Jerusalem. Not quite sure where you're going with this Fed.

  • Dee

    Islam again brings destruction of peoples lives. It's a dangerous CULT! The media is AFRAID of Muslims, and that is why they often turn a blind eye. Yes, Hitler was appeased several times when he broke the rules, but it didn't satisfy him. Wake up, and stop calling people hateful who KNOW the danger. I'm a 1974 refugee of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. We lost our homes, friends, family, property to Muslims. Still waiting to be reimbursed by the EU. Right.

    • johnnywoods

      A few years ago Universal Studios made a blasphemous movie entitled "The Last Temptation of CHRIST". Many Christians peacefully protested the film, including me. We were criticized for protesting. Had they made a movie criticizing "Allah" or the "Prophet" the Muslims would have burned the studios to the ground and the press would have barely mentioned it because they are afraid of those terrorist fools. That is what to expect from Hollywood and the MSM.

    • jay martin

      Even demons have power to masquerade as angels of light, and that's what happened when muhammed who was on the verge of suicide decided to experiment with the occult and converse with demons- writing the koran in the midst of his hallucinations, who he claims was the result of a series of interpretations from visions and dialogue with the angel Gabriel. satan is responsible for this, but Jesus Christ has conquered and will reign forever. Muslims at a rate more than ever before are converting, seeing visions in their dreams of Jesus in countries like iran, afghanistan, saudi arabia, syria, turkey, egypt etc. Jesus Christ will have the final victory and all evil will be made right. Accept Him and reap the rewards of salvation. God Bless you and your family, I know some of what you experienced but more importantly, the God in heaven knows like He knows the number of hairs on your head, and He loves you.

  • Marmet

    To the Iranian extremist clerics. We know what your true motivations are. You are not interested in helping the poor, common people of your faith. You are only interested in power and riches. You are only interested in political control. You do not speak for the One True God, blessed be He! The pophet you revere would be ashamed of you if he were here today.
    When you kill those of other faiths and religions you only prove once again that your own beliefes are flawed and your god cannot defend himself.

    • jay martin

      They believe it is their responsibility to usher in the return of the imam mahdi, who has all the nicknames, features and goals of the antiChrist who is described in the Bible. The are under the control of satan and tht is why they hate Israel and they hate Jesus. But Jesus has conquered all.

  • J. Lopes

    Será que o Irã sabe o que é liberdade para adorar a Deus?

    Que Deus é esse que eles servem?

    Esse é um país que precisa se converter ao Deus verdadeiro.

    I am against execution.

    I love Brasil.

    • http://www.nightmist.us/study/NL/ Axe

      Hope my translator worked properly :)

  • Ayuba Pam Dangwong

    It is really unfortunate that the world Is turning a deft ear to the plight of this young Pastor, Nadarkhani. The world is watching the gruesome and cruel would be murdered evangelist. What do we do at a time like this. The Celebs are themselves not in a position to call for a clemency since most of them are not believers. What we need at this time is for the church to rise up to the occasion and take a firm position. Christian world leaders should know that God would hold them accountable if the fail at this time to speak out.

  • Amused

    The Pope should be all over this , a public condemnation is in order..oh wait …is this guy a Catholic ? Where are the newly elected Tea Party bigmouths ? WHERE'S Rush ? Where's that paragon of truth and expose' Breitbart ??
    So it's just those leftie celebrities that are silent ? What a bunch of clowns .