BERLIN – The family of American-Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini released a letter from him on Thursday stating that Iranian authorities have threatened him with death because of his belief in Christianity.
“This is the process in my life today: One day I am told I will be freed and allowed to see my kids on Christmas (which was a lie) and the next day, I am told I will hang for my faith in Jesus,” he wrote in the letter.
“One day, there are intense pains after beatings in interrogations; the next day they are nice to you and offer you candy,” continued Abedini, who is imprisoned in a Tehran jail.
The US State Department expressed “serious concerns” about Abedini’s situation on Friday.
Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of the Washington- based American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) wrote to the The Jerusalem Post on Friday, “This is an extremely critical time for American Pastor Saeed and his family. We now know with certainty, from his own words, the brutality and life-threatening danger he faces in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison.”
“In a powerful letter from him released to family members in Tehran, Pastor Saeed reveals that he is undergoing beatings and is being told that he ‘will hang’ for his Christian faith. That treatment combined with the recent news that Pastor Saeed’s case has been turned over to one of Iran’s ‘hanging judges’ makes his circumstances more dire than ever,” Sekulow said.
The European Union sanctioned Judge Pir-Abassi, who has earned the reputation of a “hanging judge” and who is now handling Abedini’s case, for his violations of human rights in the Islamic Republic.
Fox News reported last week that “Abedini, 32, became a US citizen in 2010 when he married his American wife, Naghmeh Abedini.
Two years earlier, he had become an ordained minister.”
Sekulow and the ACLJ have urged the US government to intervene in the Abedini’s case. He told the Post that “after months of urging the US State Department to get involved in Pastor Saeed’s case, a State Department spokesperson on Friday addressed his plight publicly, acknowledging for the first time that it has ‘serious concerns’ about his fate. We are hopeful that this statement represents an important first step forward for the State Department toward securing Pastor Saeed’s freedom.”
“Pastor Saeed is a US citizen – an American imprisoned in Iran because of his religious beliefs. The State Department must do more – it must condemn his imprisonment and call on Iran to immediately release him. The world is watching. Time is of the essence,” the human rights activist continued.
Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, an expert on Iran who has written extensively on the persecution of Christians in the Islamic Republic, told the Post on Saturday, that Abedini’s case was “an example of the insidious and perfidious policy of the Islamist dictatorship” in Tehran, adding that “the main goal of the rulers is to intimidate Christians and Iranians who are interested to leave Islam and change their religion.”
Wahdat-Hagh, who is a senior fellow with the Brussels- based European Foundation for Democracy, added that the persecution of Christians recalls the“hostile policy of taking hostages” taken by Iran and the Lebanon-based, Iran-sponsored terrorist organization Hezbollah.
He said the situation of Christians in Iran is dire and “their websites, even exile websites, are attacked by Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”
“The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and representatives of Islamic Jihad even play the role of pastors in churches in Isfahan to “guide” the Christians and teach them that Islam is better,” Wahdat-Hagh stated.
He noted that the situation of the Baha’i community, a religious minority in Iran, “is even worse than the situation of Christians.”
The regime in Tehran has waged a campaign of imprisonments, executions and show trials against the Baha’i community since coming to power following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.