Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-born American citizen who was arrested for his faith while visiting his family in Iran, will spend this Christmas behind bars, Jordan Sekulow writes in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
By Jordan Sekulow and Matthew Clark
12/24/2012 Iran (Washington Post) – As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, a time of joy, hope, and peace on earth, we are reminded that in this world not everyone is free to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Last year, we told you about the death sentence against a Christian pastor in Iran, Youcef Nadarkhani. His only “crime” was his faith in Jesus Christ, convicted of apostasy (converting from Islam to Christianity). Hundreds of thousands of people around the world demanded his freedom. After an immense international campaign for his release, working closely with his brave Muslim attorney in Iran and world leaders, Iran relented, releasing him and dropping his apostasy charges in September.
Nadarkhani was not the only imprisoned pastor in the world, but he did become the face of Christian persecution.
Today, another Christian pastor languishes in one of Iran’s most notoriously abusive prisons – this time an American citizen. Saeed Abedini, a 32-year-old Iranian-born American citizen, was arrested because of his faith while visiting his family in Iran.
After converting from Islam to Christianity, Abedini helped lead underground churches in Iran and began humanitarian efforts to establish an orphanage for the children of Iran.
In September, when traveling back to Iran to visit his parents and continue his humanitarian work, Abedini was stopped by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. He has now been illegally imprisoned in Iran since September.
We at the ACLJ have been working on his case for a number of months, representing his wife, Naghmeh, and family here in America. Abedini’s wife explained, “When he became a Christian, he became a criminal in his own country. His passion was to reach the people of Iran. . . . He comes from a very close-knit family, and he loved evangelizing and passing out Bibles on the streets of Tehran. This was his passion.”