Relaymedia

New President Doesn’t Equal Better Treatment for Iranian Christians - Saeed Abedini

( [email protected] ) Mar 11, 2014 12:42 PM EDT
Even with pressure from around the globe, Christians like American Pastor Saeed Abedini, and Iranian citizen Amin Khaki suffer for Christ
Iranian Pastor Amin Khaki (Photo: Present Ministries)

Just last week, during a picnic in a park in Shoush, Khuzestan Province, Iran, Pastor Amin Khaki and a group of Christians were attacked by Iranian Secret Police. The officers pulled their guns on the believers and beat them, arresting the Pastor and two others.

These believers, like many before them, suffer as Christians in Iran. 

American Pastor Saeed Abedini is still locked in prison, suffering for his Christian faith, with the threat of death hanging over him.

Although there is new leadership in Iran in Hassan Rouhani, and even though President Obama himself has reached out on Abedini's behalf, the US citizen who makes his home in the United States with his wife and two children is still locked away from the people he loves. 

His only "crime" is his faith in Jesus Christ.

Saeed Abedini
Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini is seen with his family. He has been separated from his family for over 400 days.
Saeed Abedini
Pastor Saeed Abedini and his children. (Photo: ACLJ)

Recent reports out of Iran from the American Center for Law and Justice say pastor Abedini, 33, has been moved from a death row ward for the most heinous criminals, to one reserved for political prisoners.  As meager as it is, this is really the first breakthrough his supporters have been able to report since his ordeal began. 

He has served one year of his eight-year prison sentence for practicing Christianity.

Even though Pastor Abedini's walk for Christ has been so brutal, his family hangs on to every bit of hope they can find. 

"There is a glimmer of comfort to know that my husband has been transferred out of the murderers' ward, but my heart aches to know the pain he continually suffers and that his injuries necessitate surgery," Naghmeh Abedini, his wife, said in a statement on the ACLJ website.

Others close to his case warn against a let down in support for Abedini.

"Make no mistake, Pastor Saeed is still in the deadliest prison in Iran facing deteriorating medical conditions," the ACLJ reported. 

SaeedAbedini1111.jpg
Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini and his family in this undated photo. (Photo : Savesaeed.org)

His family reports that he is malnourished, and that his health is deteriorating.  An Iranian doctor who was able to exam him in prison reports that he also suffers from internal injuries that he sustained during prolonged beatings that require surgery. 

President Obama called for the pastor's release in his phone call to Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, in September of 2013.

Secretary of State John Kerry also urged the Iranian regime to release Abedini earlier this year.

Many felt that with the coming of Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani, things would change in Iran for the persecuted Christians there.

Rouhani sent out a tweet around Christmas last year, claiming to wish all Iranian Christians a Merry Christmas, even while his regime imprisons and tortures Christians like Pastor Saeed. 

New leaders, New Year, and little real appear to have changed in Iran.

Like too many times in the past, new leadership in Iran doesn't equal new treatment for Christian's living there.

For instance, according to Present Truth Ministries, just within the last week, two other Iranian Pastors have been beaten and harassed, and just last week, one of them has been arrested. 

Their reports state that intelligent officers attacked a group of Christians during a church picnic, pulling their guns and beating them before taking all of the people into custody.

The group was blindfolded and held for six hours in interrogation rooms. All but the pastor and two others were released.

Pastor Amin Khaki and two members of his fellowship were taken into custody Thursday by Iranian intelligence, according to Present Truth.

As is customary in Iran for this type of situation, they will probably be held for a month without being charged while authorities investigate, before charges are leveled.  In January, Iranian secret police raided Pastor Khaki's home and confiscated his laptop and other Christian materials.