One of the nation’s leading evangelists is wondering why President Barack Obama has been silent on an issue that has generated such intense outrage throughout the world — Iran’s continued human rights violations against Saeed Abedini, a U.S. Christian pastor.
Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, told Fox News that the torture and imprisonment of Abedini by the Iranian government amounts to a blatant case of “religious intolerance.”
“Many in the international community are expressing outrage over this blatant example of religious intolerance,” said Graham, who also heads the international relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse. “I ask that our government do the same and demand that Pastor Saeed Abedini be released and allowed to return home to his wife and family in the United States.”
Abedini was first detained in the summer of 2012 because of his faith, and his wife, Naghmeh, has been living in constant fear ever since.
“Naghmeh worries that she and her two young children may never see Saeed again,” Graham told Fox News.
She’s especially troubled by the White House’s silence.
“She’s discouraged by the fact that our own government seems to have abandoned them,” Graham said. “President Obama has been silent on the issue as an American Christian endures the horrors of Evin Prison.”
Since March, when Secretary of State John Kerry requested Abedini’s release, the agency has appeared apathetic to the situation.
“Sadly, since then, our government appears to have done little to pressure Iran to release a fellow American citizen,” Graham said.
Abedini was picked up in Iran when he was visiting family and assisting in the construction of an orphanage on family property. He was eventually tried and sentenced to eight years in prison for endangering national security by committing the crime of evangelism.
“Pastor Saeed was in Iran trying to help children,” Graham told Fox News. “With the permission of Iran’s government, he was working to build an orphanage. But his humanitarian mission led to an arrest on bogus charges and nearly a year of inhumane treatment simply because he loves Jesus Christ.”
According to Fox News:
More than a decade ago, Abedini helped organize home churches in Iran — where Christians are forbidden from praying in public. He was arrested in 2009 but was released after promising to stop formally organizing house churches.
Naghmeh Abedini testified before the United Nations last month – urging foreign diplomats to put pressure on the Islamic republic to free her husband.
“My husband, a U.S. citizen and loving father of our two young children, has been held in Iran’s brutal Evin Prison because of his faith — without a voice to fight for his freedom,” Naghmeh Abedini testified. “I must, therefore, be his voice.”
Graham called for a national prayer vigil on Sept. 26, the one-year anniversary of Abedini’s imprisonment.
“I also encourage churches and people everywhere to join the hundreds of thousands of others who are showing solidarity with this courageous man of faith,” he said.
Video from SaveSaeed.org.
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