While Iran apologists in the U.S and Europe continue to praise the Islamic Republic’s “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani, a retired California pastor, Eddie Romero, snuck into Iran to call for the release of imprisoned Iranian Christians.
Pastor Romero protested in front of Iran’s notorious Evin prison on Monday, chanting “Let my people go.” Prison officials detained Romero and it is unclear where he is located. According to reports, Romero sought to draw attention to the plight of imprisoned Christian Iranians, including Farshid Fathi, Saeed Abedini, Mostafa Bordbar, and Alireza Seyyedian.
Iran’s regime imprisoned the Christian Iranians simply because they practiced their faith. Shahrokh Afshar, a pastor for the Iranian Church On The Way in Los Angeles, said, “Their greatest sin was leaving Islam to follow Christ.” Pastor Abedini is a U.S. citizen who has been incarcerated for over a year in Iran. His wife, Naghmeh, wrote a tragic article in September about her husband’s ordeal.
“Without warning, members of the Revolutionary Guard pulled him off of a bus and put him under house arrest in his parents’ home in Tehran. On September 26, 2012, members of the Guard came to the home and took him away — in chains — to Evin Prison, where he has remained ever since,” wrote Naghmeh.
President Obama’s September conversation with Rouhani did not produce any results with respect to Abedini or the two other Americans held captive in Iran.
Meanwhile European politicians are following Obama’s lead to engage in diplomacy without meaningful concessions from Iran on human rights or its drive to become a nuclear-weapons power. Take the example of Hannes Swoboda, an Austrian member of the Social Democratic party in the European parliament, who just returned from Tehran. The Iranian media reported his call for the lifting of sanctions. Swobada met with Ali Larijani, who defended a form of Holocaust denial and serves as the speaker of Iran’s phony parliament.
American foreign policy is adrift. While U.S. allies are breaking away from the Obama administration, political overtures, including the possibility of sanctions relief, are being made to the world’s No. 1 sponsor of terrorism, Iran.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal