Imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has ended a three-week hunger strike protesting the regime’s prohibition on his children’s ability to complete their education because they refuse to study Islam.
Christian persecution advocacy organizations Article 18 and Christian Solidarity Worldwide report that Nadarkhani, a former Muslim believer who led a house church in the Gilan province and is serving a 10-year prison sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, ended his hunger strike on Sunday.
The strike began on Sept. 23 to protest the regime’s decision to withhold education certificates from his two children, preventing them from moving on to the next grades because they would not study Islam or read the Quran in school.
Nadharkani’s 15-year-old son, Youeil, was told in September that he could not return to school because he has not been awarded certificates for completing the eighth and ninth grades.
Meanwhile, the pastor’s 17-year-old son, Daniel, was not given a school report card that would have allowed him to enroll for a college education. However, Daniel has been accepted back to the school as a “guest.”
Last year, both boys attended the school as “guests” but we’re also fully paying students, according to Article 18.
The actions against Nadarkhani’s sons come as Christians and other religious minorities in Iran are usually exempted from having to study Islam or the Quran in school. However, as Article 18 notes, children of Christian converts are not usually given an exemption from Islamic studies because the government still recognizes them as Muslims.
A 2017 court ruling allowed Daniel to continue at the school as long as he attended the Islamic studies class in a nonparticipatory manner, according to CSW.
CSW, a U.K.-based group that operates in over 20 countries, explained that Nadarkhani offered justification for his hunger strike in a letter to prison authorities.
“This is the cries of a father unjustly imprisoned,” Nadarkhani wrote in the letter appealing to the minister of National Education.
Although the situation for his children has not changed since the letter was written, Nadarkhani reportedly ended his hunger strike because he felt he drew enough attention to the issue.
Read more at: Christian Post
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