Apostasy - Tutu asks Iran to free pastor
Cape Town - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on Sunday called on Iran to free a pastor who faces the death penalty for refusing to give up Christianity and return to Islam.
"I would like to appeal to the Iranian authorities to free Yusef Nadarkhani, and allow him and all other members of minority religions in Iran to worship God," Tutu said in a statement.
"Forcing anybody to renounce his or her faith is an utter violation of our universal human and religious values, and a renunciation of God," Tutu said.
Nadarkhani, 32, converted from Islam to Christianity 13 years ago and became pastor of a small evangelical community called the Church of Iran.
He was arrested in October 2009 and condemned to death for apostasy under Islamic shari'ah law, which allows for such verdicts to be overturned if the convicted person "repents" and renounces his conversion.
His lawyer told AFP in Tehran on Thursday that a verdict was expected within days.