This morning Fox News broke the story of Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen and Christian convert from Islam who has been seized by the Revolutionary Guard and held in Iran’s “notoriously brutal” Evin Prison, where guards and inmates have beaten him repeatedly. Pastor Saeed is formerly a leader of Iran’s small but growing house-church movement, but was in the country continuing a long-term humanitarian project (building an orphanage).
It’s tough to imagine the courage it takes to not only convert from Islam but to then lead an evangelistic house-church effort within Iran itself. Then, when confronted by the Revolutionary Guard and forced to cease evangelism, Pastor Saeed didn’t abandon Iran but continued a humanitarian effort apart from his evangelism.
Iran targets Christians because they present perhaps the greatest threat to the regime — the threat of a different, and radically better, belief system than the fundamentalist, Islamist theocracy that currently dominates the country. As history has proven again and again, it is the better idea that ultimately triumphs over totalitarianism. In this case, Iran is demonstrating that it will target Christians even when they are American citizens, and even when they comply with the regime’s demands. Not even charitable efforts are safe.
At the American Center for Law and Justice, we are representing Pastor Saeed’s family and are calling for the same kind of international diplomatic and public relations offensive that ultimately freed Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy. Suprisingly enough, a regime that can barely count itself a member of the international community can and will respond to intense pressure, properly applied.
Simply put, Iran cannot be permitted to imprison and abuse American citizens.