Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the Christian whose conversion from Islam caused him to receive a death sentence for apostasy, was released from prison this weekend.
According to CNN, a trial court in Iran acquitted him of apostasy and instead charged him with evangelizing Muslims, then “declared that his prison sentence had already been served” and released him. Pastor Nadarkhani’s arrest and imprisonment had drawn international attention and sparked multiple petitions for his release, with the White House and the State Department repeatedly condemning his persecution.
The State Department, citing U.N. figures, estimates that 300,000 Christians live in Iran—a 98% Muslim nation—along with thousands of Baha’is, Jews, Sabean-Mandaeans, and Zoroastrians, religious minorities who have also been subject to various forms of harassment and discrimination. Here’s hoping that Pastor Nadarkhani’s release leads to greater religious freedom for all of them.
And an update on another case we’ve followed on this blog: As Wesley Smith notes on Secondhand Smoke, the German state of Berlin has declared circumcision legal—but only if it’s performed by a doctor, rather than a mohel as Jewish law requires.
Clarification: Some mohels are also medical doctors. It would seem that those mohels could continue to perform circumcisions in Berlin under current law, although the Times of Israel story on the matter does not say so.