January 21, 2013
Next Convert Pastor To Face Iran's Death Penalty May Be American Saeed Abedini
(UPDATED) Today, Iranian-born U.S. pastor faces one of Iran's most severe revolutionary court judges.
Update (Jan 27): Pastor Abedini was sentenced to eight years in prison today for "threatening national security" with his church planting, reports Morning Star News. “The promise of his release was a lie,” said his wife, Nagmeh Abedini, in a statement. “... We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil.”
World Watch Monitor also covered Abedini's sentencing.
Right on the heels of the final release of Youcef Nadarkhani, a Church of Iran pastor who was imprisoned for three years, another Iranian-born pastor could face the death penalty for converting to Christianity from Islam.
Abedini was born in Iran, but married an American woman and moved to the U.S., where he converted to Christianity. Abedini was imprisoned in Iran after being arrested while visiting his family in September.
In recent days, though, as his trial date approached, support for Abedini grew and made headlines, both in his hometown of Boise, Idaho, and in Washington D.C., where 49 members of the House of Representatives and the United States' Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) all called for his release.
"The national security charges leveled against Mr. Abedini are bogus and are a typical tactic by the Iranian government to masquerade the real reason for the charges: to suppress religious belief and activity of which the Iranian government does not approve,” USCIRF chair Katrina Lantos Swett said in a statement. “USCIRF calls on the Iranian government to release Mr. Abedini immediately and unconditionally.”
CT regularly reported on Nadarkhani, including his release, re-imprisonment, and subsequent final release. CT also examined the marketing of martyrs and whether the orthodoxy of Nadarkhani's theology impacts advocacy on his behalf.