CHICAGO - Despite a growing international outcry against Iranian authorities' plan to execute a jailed Christian pastor, Governor Quinn's Muslim-American Advisory Council will remain silent, the governor's office confirmed this week.
"The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right," a White House statement said. "The trial and sentencing process for Pastor Nadarkhani demonstrates the Iranian government’s total disregard for religious freedom, and further demonstrates Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens."
The White House called upon Iranian authorities to immediately lift the sentence, release Pastor Nadarkhani, and "demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion."
The 34-year-old Pastor Nadarkhani was thrown into an Iranian jail in 2009 because he objected to his son being forced to read the Quran at school. Recent reports indicate the execution could take place at any time.
The Obama Administration encourages people of conscience and governments around the world to reach out to Iranian authorities and demand Pastor Nadarkhani's immediate release.
Illinois is home to one of America's largest Muslim-American communities, with 400,000 Muslims and over 300 mosques within the state's borders. Members of the Muslim-American Advisory Council are influential among the international Muslim community, including Safaa Zarzour, security general of the Islamic Society of North America and Ahmed Rehab, executive director of Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
But Governor Quinn's Muslim-American Advisory Council, formed in August 2011 as the governor's only religion-affiliated appointed committee, will not join the international plea for religious freedom in Iran and Nadarkhani's life. The reason they will not participate is because they're not involved in any issues outside Illinois borders, the group spokesman Samreen Khan told Illinois Review in an email this week:
The Muslim American Advisory Council's job is to advise the Governor on ways to advance the role and civic participation of Muslim Americans in Illinois. The council also facilitates relationship-building in the Muslim community to achieve goals related to International Commerce in Muslim countries/communities, bring important faith-based issues based on factual findings to the Governor’s attention and make recommendations to address those issues.
Thus far, no resolution from either Illinois legislative chamber has been introduced to urge the pastor's release and the expansion of human and religious rights.