Rep. Lois Capps, D-San Luis Obispo, has reiterated her support for religious freedom in Iran and opposition to state-sponsored persecution of religious minorities after word began circulating erroneously that she favored such persecution.
The Iranian government has threatened to execute Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor, for apostasy. The dominant religion in Iran is Shia Islam. The U.S. House of Representatives has condemned Iran for its treatment of the pastor.
So has Capps, who gave a speech last week condemning Iran and calling for Nadarkhani to be released.
When it came time for the formal vote Monday, however, she was the only member whose vote was recorded as being against the resolution of condemnation. She came out on the short end of a 417-1 tally.
When she realized what she had done, the Central Coast congresswoman immediately went to the House floor and explained that she had pressed the wrong button, and again called for the clerics immediate release.
The State Department also has called for Nadarkhanis release. His incarceration and possible execution have united various religious communities around the world. The religious discrimination is not aimed solely at Christians, the State Department wrote.
Such government persecution for simply following ones faith is common in Iran, where followers of many religious traditions face harsh treatment and severe violations of their religious freedom, the department wrote.
We have also witnessed a dramatic increase in the arrest of adherents to the Bahai Faith recently, as well as an increase in repression of freedom of expression in all forms.