As international pressure increases, the Iranian regime is now taking new measures to delegitimize Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. Iranian film director Nader Talebzadh is making a “documentary” about Pastor Youcef. One would hope that such a documentary would expose the truth about the persecution of Pastor Youcef.
However, Mr. Talebzadh has said he will work directly with the Iranian judiciary in producing the film. In announcing that he is in the beginning stages of the documentary, Mr. Talebzadh proclaimed that Pastor Youcef is a criminal and that his death sentence for apostasy is a lie propagated by western media. Clearly, Mr. Talebzadh has not reviewed the court’s verdict. (and has been translated into English, Portuguese, and Russian), because it clearly stated that Pastor Youcef’s death sentence is solely for the charge of apostasy.
Producing a film with any legitimacy will be difficult for Mr. Talebzadh. To begin with, the Iranian regime has made so many inconsistent public statements about Pastor Youcef, it will be impossible to tell his story without contradicting the Iranian regime’s various accounts.
So which false story line will Mr. Talebzadh pursue? Will it be that Pastor Youcef is a rapist, which would require Mr. Talebzadh produce two witnesses; or that he is an extortionist; or perhaps the false accusation that he ran a brothel? Of course there is always the standard Iranian fallback that Pastor Youcef is a Zionist or national security threat, both of which might include scintillating action scenes for the viewers.
Mr. Talebzadh also proclaimed that Pastor Youcef is not a Christian pastor; but of course, if this is true, then the regime lied before the United Nations Human Rights Council last March when the Head of Iran’s Human Rights Council, Mohammad Javad Larijani, stated three new charges against against Pastor Youcef. Each of the new charges concerned his preaching Christianity or building a church in his home.
One thing is for certain, Mr. Talebzadh, a man “known to make the films the Regime orders him to make,” will use his documentary as a smear campaign for the regime. In light of these new attempts to disgrace Pastor Youcef’s reputation, we must remain vigilant in our pursuit of his freedom.