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And that’s where celebrity influence can sometimes make a difference. Stars had banded together to express support for the American hikers held in captivity in Iran on suspicion of spying, and apparently activist/actor Sean Penn even used his influence with his friend, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, to use his influence with Ahmadinejad to get the hikers released. Penn, now in Egypt urging the government to hand over the country to the people, could really strike a blow for freedom of conscience by working those same contacts for the release of a man facing death for no crime but his religious conviction.
At least the White House has condemned Nadarkhani’s persecution. But where is the swelling tide of celebrities proclaiming his innocence, championing the individual’s freedom of conscience, and protesting his plight specifically and the persecution of Iranian Christians in general? Such an outpouring of support from the media darlings of Hollywood and the music industry would not only spread awareness to a young and too often uninformed generation, but very effectively put significant international pressure on Iran and other such human rights abusers.
In fact, international disapproval may already be having an effect. Nadarkhani’s crime initially was his refusal to renounce Christianity; now the obviously bogus charges of rape and treason have been tacked on in a transparently desperate attempt to justify killing him and to deflect world opprobrium. This tactic is much like the one employed in the case of Sakineh Ashtiani, an Iranian mother sentenced to be stoned to death in 2010 for adultery. When outrage about the barbaric sentence from governments worldwide began to prove too embarrassing even for the Iranian mullahs, a suspicious video was released in which the pixilated image of a woman identified as Ashtiani purportedly “confessed” to adultery and collusion in the murder of her husband.
Unlike Troy Davis, for whom the evidence of his innocence was at best questionable, Nadarkhani is unequivocally innocent of wrongdoing. So why the seeming celebrity indifference to his situation and to the worldwide Muslim persecution of Christians?
Unfortunately, celebrity outrage reflects the multiculturalist mindset of our era, which places all minorities on a pedestal – unless that minority is a devout Christian. Celebrities flocked to support American Muslims’ right to religious freedom in the Ground Zero mosque controversy (a right which the mosque protesters were not even contesting). They decried the “state-sanctioned murder” of the black Troy Davis. But they can’t be bothered to take even a stand on Twitter for Pastor Nadarkhani, whose murder at the hands of an oppressive state is imminent.
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