Iran’s Saeed Abedini: A Crime of Christianity

With the exception of the United States, most countries have remained silent while Pastor Saeed Abedini continues to languish in a prison cell, as has been his circumstance since the summer of 2012. I stumbled across his plight a few months ago when scrolling through articles on the CBN webpage. As I scoured through numerous articles detailing his suffering I couldn’t help but feel enraged and betrayed, at how such treatment of a man – whose only crime is his Christianity – could go largely unreported and unpublicised. His story is yet another example of not only political failure, but also a failure of Christendom. Yet again, global leaders have not significantly come together to draw attention to the anti-Christian actions of the Iranian regime, nor to pressurise Iran to abide by its own constitution which recognises Christianity as minority religion.

Global leaders, particularly those who claim to be Christian should not be afraid, nor gingerly approach the sheer discrimination and disregard non-Muslims in Islamic nations are facing, particularly as such leaders afford their Muslim populations ultimate freedom in order to practise their beliefs. Western leaders should be apt to state that if Iranians are awarded the right to practise their Muslim faith in non-Muslim territory, why can’t the same be said for Iran’s non-Muslims in Shia-dom?

Instead, Saeed Abedini’s situation has demonstrated once again that tepidness, that reluctance, that political correctness/weakness. That lack of courage and boldness of our David Camerons, our Barack Obamas, these so-called men of ‘faith’ to publicly express solidarity with the persecuted Saeed Abedinis of the world. To commit themselves to the freedom of these imprisoned minorities in order to deter Islamic regimes from repetitive discrimination, as opposed to rendering such oppressed people helpless; a tacit approval to intolerant authorities who are at liberty to beat, torture and maim those under their charge, who refuse to recant their faith in order to guarantee their survival .

Saeed is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2000. While the minority faith is in theory recognised in the Iranian constitution, in reality Muslim converts suffer discrimination by Iran’s authorities. Converts are disallowed from worshipping or gathering together in fellowship in established churches, forcing many of them to instead opt for ‘house’ or ‘underground’ churches in order to practise their faith more freely. Abedini married his Iranian-American wife Naghmeh in 2002 and subsequently became prominent in the house-church movement in Iran, credited with establishing around 100 house churches in 30 cities. However, in the aftermath of Ahmed Ahmedinejad’s elective victory in 2005, a severe and repression crackdown of such a movement began which led to the Abedini couple returning to the US.

Saeed returned to Iran to visit his family and was apprehended by government authorities who threatened to kill him during an interrogation concerning his conversion, but was released upon him signing a pledge to cease all house-church activity throughout Iran. However, the present turmoil of the Abedini family was to begin in the summer of 2012, when Saeed returned to Iran yet again to visit family and resume his work in building an orphanage in the city of Rasht. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confiscated and placed him under house arrest until he was later transferred to Evin Prison. In January 2013 it was reported that Abedini would be trialled and could potentially face the death penalty. His charges consisted of comprising national security and attempting to sway the Iranian youth from Islam, though of course specific detail were never publicised, due to the fact that the sole and crucial reason Abedini was detained in the first place was on account of his Christianity. Saeed was transferred from Tehran to the Rajani Shahr Prison in November 2013, in addition to being completely cut off from any contact with his wife and two young children in the United States.

Rajani Shahr is a notorious prison within Iran, where inmate violence, executions and beatings are commonplace and therefore to remain in denial of the persecution and intolerance of non-Muslims throughout the Islamic world is unequivocally unacceptable. The fact that a Christian has been transferred to a prison entailing serious offenders, with harsh, penal and life-threatening conditions speaks for itself. Saeed’s immediate family in Tehran have spoken of his deteriorating health, of the denial of vital medical treatment for the infections brought about by severe beatings – all of which has mostly fallen upon deaf ears and international ignorance and inaction.

Abedini was refused treatment in Evin Prison due to being regarded as an ‘unclean infidel’. In early 2013, Saeed’s internal injuries became too much of a concern with doctors stressing they warranted immediate attention at a non-prison hospital. The Iranian regime ignored such warnings for almost a year, whilst his health continued to rapidly disintegrate. In March 2014, Abedini was granted treatment at a private hospital but was returned to prison without the surgery deemed necessary by expert opinion.

Pastor Saeed Abedini continues to experience physical and psychological trauma, shacked up in a penal prison, enduring systemic beatings and a witness to inmate executions. A man imprisoned for his faith and ignored by the international community at large. However, the crucial underlying fact remains: while the story of the Abedini family deeply moves and troubles me – a fellow Christian who has come to know her own version of persecution – Abedini’s story echoes every jailed Christian within the Muslim world. Christians in the Islamic world struggle for their survival while world leaders go about their daily lives, prioritising oil deals and signing policies concerning arms and weapons to the very nations that brutally repress the very citizens that share the same faith some of these leaders apparently follow.

I cannot imagine the misery and pain of his children, the uncertainty and dashes of hope his wife and family have been plunged in since 2012. The resilience, courage and faith displayed by his beautiful wife Naghmeh is truly remarkable and is a personal testament to true Christian faith and those persecuted believers around her. At this time where nothing is guaranteed, I will continue to uplift Abedini families in prayer and thought; realising the only crime such a people ever commit is the conscious decision to become a disciple of Christ.

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7 responses to “Iran’s Saeed Abedini: A Crime of Christianity

  1. Pingback: Iranian regime releases Pastor Saaed Abedini | InfidelsAreUs·

  2. I think Iran and Pakistan are as different than the United States and Mexico: very much! I am not saying Iran is here the US, I am just saying neighboring Countries can be very much different. If you know much about Pakistan that does not mean you know much about Iran.
    Iran has a theocratic government, this is unfortunately true, and Pakistan has a secular government if I am not mistaken. Still Pakistan has much more problems with extremism, extremist Sunni killing Shia and also Christian converts.
    For example is this possible in Pakistan?
    http://theotheriran.com/tag/christians/
    Is this possible in any Muslim country in the region?

    I guess, not! I have fled myself from Iran (and I am a Shia). Being a Christian makes it much easier to get a Visa, otherwise it is almost impossible except you are a brilliant scientist like for example:
    http://theotheriran.com/2014/08/14/iranian-mathematician-maryam-mirzakhani-the-first-women-to-win-the-nobel-prize-of-mathematics/

    Still there is not a single example of someone who was executed because of converting, there are tens of thousands converts in Iran. The regime would not start to execute them all.

    Like

    • Clearly we don’t see eye to eye and that’s fine. No Pakistan is getting increasingly radicalised, hard to tell if it’s a ‘secular’ state due to army presence and power or not. Iran couldn’t possible detain every single offensive convert it comes across, not possible but the fact that Christians are driven to worship in secret or create these house movements in the first place shows how intolerant the Iranian govt and authorities are to what they perceive to be threat to their way of life.

      I hope you’re in a better, safer situation and good job with your blogging!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. No one is executed in Iran for beeing a Christian, people are only excuted for severe crimes or and this is of course sad because of political activities against the regime.
    Iran’s dictators persecute every one who is active against them no matter which fate the person has.
    I am not a Christian and several of my family members where killed in the 80s because they were active against the regime or were put to prison.
    Hence, I know what I am talking about. I am not writing about a country I do not know.
    Most Iranians who convert, do not convert because of the religion, most do it because they are politically active and being a Christian protects them from the measures of the regime, because the case then gets international attention.
    Each year loads of muslims get executed and no one in the world cares. Converting to Christianity can save your life.
    The other thing is that a lot of Iranians are desperate to travel to the US or at least Europe, being a Christian makes it way more easy to get a Visa, which is otherwise only impossible to get.

    Iran has a lot of problems but being intollerant to Christians have never been a problem.
    In fact, Iran is the only Muslim country in the middle east where Christians and Jews can practice their religion.
    http://theotheriran.com/tag/christians/
    Why do people not know that there are Jews in Iran (second largest population in middle east after Israel)?
    This is because the media does not want to write that they are living in peace in Iran:
    http://theotheriran.com/tag/jews/
    It would be like admitting their own lies.

    I hope these links open your eyes to question what you thought to know about Iran.

    Like

    • The fact that Saeed’s story is known particularly in the States is because he is an American citizen and it’s true that most Iranian detainees are not known let alone publicised. But the fact that people in Iran would convert to Christianity for protection is absolutely absurd! I speak from personal experience and knowing Muslim converts from many Islamic countries, Iran included and this is simply not the case. I’m not denying your viewpoint and I certainly accept there are areas and sects of society that abide peacefully despite religion. But the fact remains that Iran is a theocratic government, governed by a Shia Ayatollah and where Shia Islam is tolerated and revered above all else. So a convert who has clearly abandoned this and sets up Christian places of worship for other converts to access is in the eyes of the government deemed a threat to its national religion and could potentially have him killed. Look into the Blasphemy Law situation throughout the Islamic world, research into Pakistan’s Asia Bibi, just one example. Countless minority Christians are persecuted, discriminated against and jailed for their faith and many are locked away, awaiting death or permanent detention.

      Like

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