Condemned for apostasy in Iran, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani’s impending execution has not aroused as much attention as the execution in September of Troy Davis in Georgia, which provoked an international outcry and renewed U.S. debate over the death penalty. Nadarkhani has twice refused to recant his Christian faith during court hearings. If he persists, he will be scheduled for execution. He was arrested in his home city of Rasht in October 2009 while attempting to register his church, an effort viewed as a challenge to the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran. Perhaps in response to social unrest, executions in Iran have spiked this year, with more than 320 tallied by the end of June. It is in the use of capital punishment that the United States and Iran find themselves in a rare area of agreement. They are among the handful of nations that conducted executions in 2010: China (several thousand), North Korea (60), Yemen (53) and Japan (2). Last year Iran executed 252 people and the United States 46.
Where U.S. and Iran Find Common Ground