An American in Iran

Support an Imprisoned Pastor

An American citizen and pastor has been imprisoned in Iran. And he needs your support. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

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Eric Metaxas

Most Americans have probably heard about Iran’s recent claim to have launched a monkey into space. But very few have ever heard of Saeed Abedini, and that’s just how the Iranian government wants it.

Abedini, an American citizen, was recently sentenced to eight years in prison for threatening Iran’s national security.

How did he threaten Iran’s national security? Well, according to the Iranian government, by “creating a network of Christian house churches” and, therefore, “attempting to sway Iranian youth away from Islam.”

Abedini’s problems with the regime date back to his conversion to Christianity thirteen years ago.  In Iran, such conversion is regarded as waging war on Islam.

After his conversion, Abedini became active in the house church movement, so active that he moved to the United States in 2005, becoming a citizen in 2010, to avoid persecution.

While he may have emigrated, Abedini maintained ties with his homeland. The most important of these ties is an orphanage he’s helping to build in the city of Rasht. It was during an attempted visit in last September that Abedini was arrested by Iranian authorities.

What followed was, in the words of Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, a “real travesty” and “mockery of justice.” The Iranian government seems intent on making an example of Abedini, even though he denies evangelizing in Iran.

The case raises obvious parallels to that of Youcef Nadarkhani, another Iranian pastor who served three years in prison, was released in September, and was then re-arrested December, and re-released in January.

Nadarkhani was released both times in response to international pressure. This same kind of pressure must be brought to bear on behalf of Saeed Abedini.

Thankfully, the State Department has already weighed in on Abedini’s behalf. Secretary of State John Kerry said that “the U.S. government, condemn[s] Iran’s continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and calls on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini’s human rights and release him.”

That’s a good start, but more is needed. For starters, you can sign a petition initiated by ACLJ demanding the pastor’s release. Please come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll link you to ACLJ.

You can also write the White House and State Department thanking them for their statement—and then urge them to please make Abedini’s release a top priority.

As strange it may sound, you should also write the Iranian government and urge them to release Abedini. Believe it or not, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has a Facebook page that only people outside Iran can access. The regime has some regard for its image outside of the country.

And to get a better understanding of what Saaed faces every day in that Iranian prison, and what his wife and kids face every day thousands of miles away, not knowing the fate of their beloved, please listen to “BreakPoint this Week.”

My colleague John Stonestreet sat down with Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, and with Tiffany Barrans from the ACLJ for a moving 30-minute interview. Listen to this as a family; talk about the cost of following Christ; and ask what the Lord would have you do. As Naghmeh told John, the prayer for her and her husband is that they would seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Folks, please, go to BreakPoint.org, click on the “This Week” tab, and listen to this special edition of “BreakPoint This Week.”

Further Reading and Information

BreakPoint This Week, interview with Naghmeh Abedini
John Stonestreet | BreakPoint.org | February 8, 2013

ACLJ petition for Pastor Saeed

Contact the White House

Contact the State Department

Contact your representatives in Congress

Congressman Frank Wolf's statement on Saeed Abedini


Mea culpa

As I reread your first comment, I realize that I probably misinterpreted it. You weren't saying that the page you visited was a Wikipedia article instead of a Facebook page, but that the content of the Facebook page consisted of the Wikipedia article, which is largely but not entirely true. Furthermore, my second comment is largely true but irrelevant to the point of your question, namely, how are we to communicate to the Iranian Leader our desire for Pastor Saeed to be released?

Well, you are right that the Facebook page is not the way to do that. So I looked in the commentary and found that Mr. Metaxas didn't suggest using it that way. It appears that he used the fact that the Facebook page exists and is only accessible outside Iran as evidence of their desire to be seen in a positive light by the world. But that still leaves your question as to how to communicate with the Supreme Leader unanswered.

In my third comment, I mentioned two additional web pages, one for Ayatollah Khamenei, and one for the office of Supreme Leader. The former does not, but the latter does have a way to send them a message. Near the bottom of the left-hand column, under the heading Contacts is the single item Sending Letter. If you click that, you get a form that you can use to send a message. You can even attach a file, but I don't recommend using it to try to infect their website!

That may or may not be the best way to send them a message, but it is one. I so far have not found the postal address of the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran. According to the CIA World Factbook page on Iran (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html), the interests of the US are represented in Iran in the Embassy of Switzerland at No. 39 Shahid Mousavi (Golestan 5th), Pasdaran Ave., Tehran, Iran; telephone [98] 21 2254 2178/2256 5273; FAX [98] 21 2258 0432. The interests of Iran are represented in the US in the Pakistani Embassy; address: Iranian Interests Section, Pakistani Embassy, 2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007; telephone: [1] (202) 965-4990; FAX [1] (202) 965-1073.
The Ayatollah's other web pages
I meant to mention in the comment I posted about a half hour ago, but forgot (maybe it's just as well; that comment was long enough!), that, in addition to the Wikipedia page and the Facebook page that quotes it, Ayatollah Khamenei has his own web page. It (the English version of it, anyway) is at http://english.khamenei.ir/. There is also a page for the office of Supreme Leader, the English version of which is at http://www.leader.ir/langs/en/. I found both near the bottom of the Wikipedia article.

There seem to be several kinds of confusion going on here. Let me list them and try to clear them up.

1. Your last comment is not addressed to anyone in particular. The first paragraph seems to be aimed at me, since I am the one who responded to your first comment. The last paragraph is about the Bonhoeffer commentary, which I had nothing to do with. It was by Eric Metaxas, as is the commentary on this page. He is with BreakPoint. He is listed on the "ABOUT US" page as Co-host of BreakPoint Radio. I am just a member of the public who listens to the radio programs (online), and occasionally comments on these commentary pages, like yourself. I specifically addressed my comment to you, even though yours was the only comment on the page at the time, since other comments could have been pending.

2. It is at this point unclear to me which Ayatollah's Facebook page you visited. The commentary mentions the current Leader, Khamenei. In your first comment you said you tried to go to Khomeini's Facebook page. So I thought I straightened that out in my previous comment. Now you are saying it is Khamenei's Facebook page you tried to go to. You didn't say whether that was the page you were talking about all along, and that you just mistyped the name in your earlier comment, or whether you originally went to Khomeini's page, and have now corrected that (presumably because of my earlier comment).

3. Both Facebook pages are clearly identified as such. The blue bar across the top of the page clearly says "facebook" in white letters at the far left. When I look at it, it has my name on the right side of the bar, because I'm the one logged in to Facebook as I retrieved the page. You probably would see your name (or your Facebook user name) in the same position. Below the bar, there is a large white block with the ayatollah's photo on the left. To the right of that is a quote from the Wikipedia article. It says so, right below the "Continue Reading" link that you clicked on. That link does take you to the Wikipedia article itself, but the article is placed in the block on the Facebook page. There is a separate scroll bar for the article, which is hard to see until you scroll to the right and put your mouse on it; it is separate from the scroll bar for the whole page, which is to the right of it. That block is as wide as the screen (assuming you have the browser window maximized; if not, you have to scroll to see it all). Below that block is another block, not quite as wide, labeled "About" the ayatollah, showing his profession(s) and/or family, birthplace, and nationality. Interestingly, they both identify themselves as dictators. At the bottom is another block labeled "Related Pages". Khomeini's page has an additional block between the About block and the Related Pages block, showing who influenced him and whom he has influenced.
Pastor Saaed
Thanks for the prompt response. Yes, I do have a Facebook page. And, yes, I did go to the exact link that you have for Khamenei. It actually is a Wikipedia article. When I pull it up, under "continue reading" it displays the entire Wikipedia article. Even after I hit "Like" (which was revolting to me!) it didn't give me any options to leave a comment. Maybe I'm missing something.

BTW-I've blogged on this today and referenced your great commentary. It's at this location http://bit.ly/14Y12yR.

P.S. Loved "Bonhoeffer"! Have read it twice and would recommend to anyone!

First of all, the late Ayatollah Khomeini was the first Supreme Leader of Iran after the revolution in 1979; the current Supreme Leader is Ayatollah Khamenei. Secondly, both ayatollahs have Facebook pages. Neither one looks like a Wikipedia page to me. Are you sure you went to the right website? Perhaps you don't have an account with Facebook. Here are the web addresses:


Pastor Saaed
Excellent commentary! Thank you for speaking out on behalf of this good man! I have signed petition and contacted our state department and White House on his behalf. I also plan to try to get as many of my online contacts to respond as well. I tried to get on Khomeini's site on Facebook, but there was only a Wikipedia article there. I couldn't find anywhere to leave a comment. Any ideas?