First, his lawyer has been informed that the case is being referred to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Second, the Supreme Court announced on October 11 that it would be willing to consider a further appeal. These are unusual developments in Iran's legal system, and are likely to further delay the issuing of a written verdict following the most recent hearing.
There is continuing uncertainty about the case. The Iranian authorities have repeatedly suggested that a death sentence has not been passed. This is despite the fact that written verdicts issued by the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province in September 2010 and the Supreme Court in July 2011 explicitly stated that the charge was apostasy and the sentence death.
In July, the Supreme Court also ordered the original tribunal to clarify whether or not Youcef was ever a practicing Muslim as an adult, and to give him further opportunity to recant his faith in Jesus. He refused to do so during the September hearings (for more information, click here).
Iranian Christians rejoice that Youcef's life has been spared thus far and thank us for our prayers. They request our continued intercession that:
- Youcef's death sentence will be revoked and his conviction overturned.
- Youcef, his wife, Fatemeh, and their two sons will know the comfort, presence and hope of Jesus, and that the family will be reunited soon.
- Christians throughout Iran will not be intimidated but will know the Lord's enabling and guidance.
- All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.