U.S. Pastor Imprisoned in Iran Moved to Facility for Violent Criminals

Saeed-Abedini-city-skyline

  • Inmates in Rajai Shahr Prison known to kill fellow prisoners
  • Pastor Saeed Abedini move may be caused by internal political fights
  • Nuclear talks open rift between Revolutionary Guard and Rouhani

BY: :

An U.S. pastor imprisoned in Iran for preaching Christianity has been moved to a facility housing Iran’s most violent criminals, sparking fresh concerns about his safety and calls for President Barack Obama to apply more diplomatic pressure on the Iranian regime.

American Pastor Saeed Abedini has been transferred from the Evin prison in Tehran to the Rajai Shahr Prison, about an hour-and-a-half away in Karaj, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). The Rajai Shahr Prison holds many of Iran’s most violent offenders, including convicted murderers and rapists.

Jordan Sekulow, executive director of ACLJ, said in an interview that it is common for prisoners in the death row ward where Abedini has been placed to kill each other. The Iranian regime has sent those it views as troublemakers there in the past to “have them executed without having to kill them on [their] own,” he said.

Sekulow noted that Abedini’s transfer comes as the United States and other world powers are set to discuss Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva on Thursday and Friday.

“By making this move it would appear that there are elements in Iran that are trying to undermine the negotiations,” he said. We don’t know if we have until Thursday at this point—it’s that bad of a situation.”

Read more at Free Beacon

Ignoring the Sharia Basis for Iran’s Persecution of Christians

wine-communion.jpg.pagespeed.ce.dSIgxTrh7IBy Andrew Bostom:

A confluence of news stories last week, including, prominently, the release of a report by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, have highlighted the plight of Iranian Christians.

The salient findings from Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed’s report (issued online Tuesday 10/22/13), were as follows:

Sources communicate that at least 20 Christians were in custody in July 2013. In addition, violations of the rights of Christians, particularly those belonging to evangelical Protestant groups, many of whom are converts, who proselytize to and serve Iranian Christians of Muslim background, continue to be reported. Authorities continue to compel licensed Protestant churches to restrict Persian-speaking and Muslim-born Iranians from participating in services, and raids and forced closures of house churches are ongoing. According to sources, more than 300 Christians have been arrested since 2010, and dozens of church leaders and active community members have reportedly been convicted of national security crimes in connection with church activities, such as organizing prayer groups, proselytizing and attending Christian seminars abroad.

His report further noted allegations of additional abuses, including “various forms of legal discrimination…in employment and education,” as well as frequent cases of “arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment.”

Monday, 10/21/13, a day before the Special Rapporteur’s report was issued, Eddie Romero, a retired California pastor, who managed to enter Iran surreptitiously, staged a protest before Iran’s infamous Evin prison. Repeatedly proclaiming, “Let my people go,” in Farsi, Romero attempted to draw attention to the predicament of at least four Iranians, incarcerated for converting from Islam to Christianity—Farshid Fathi, Saeed Abedini, Mostafa Bordbar, and Alireza Seyyedian. (Detained for 24-hours in Iran, Romero was released and returned safely to the U.S. by mid-week.)

Shahrokh Afshar, a pastor for the Iranian Church On The Way in Los Angeles, maintained Christian converts in Iran were imprisoned simply because they practiced their new faith. “Their greatest sin was leaving Islam to follow Christ,” he stated. One of the four imprisoned Christians, whose plight Pastor Romero was protesting, is Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen who has been incarcerated for over a year in Iran. His wife, Naghmeh, wrote a poignant depiction (published 9/25/13) of her husband’s ordeal on the bitter one year anniversary of his imprisonment.

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.

The following day, Wednesday 9/23/13, Christian Solidarity International published a report about a “verdict” an Iranian court issued on October 6th, which the named defendants received October 20th. Four members of the Church of Iran—Behzad Taalipasand, Mehdi Reza Omidi (Youhan), Mehdi Dadkhah (Danial) and Amir Hatemi (Youhanna)—were charged with drinking alcohol during a communion service, and possession of a receiver and satellite antenna. The court sentenced them to receive 80 lashes each, for these alleged “offenses.” Two of the “suspects,” Behzad Taalipasand and Mehdi Reza Omidi (Youhan), had been detained December 31, 2012, during an Iranian government crackdown on house churches. Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas, declared forthrightly,

The sentences handed down to these members of the Church of Iran effectively criminalize the Christian sacrament of sharing in the Lord’s Supper and constitute an unacceptable infringement on the right to practice faith freely and peaceably. We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that the nation’s legal practices and procedures do not contradict its international obligation under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to guarantee the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by all of its religious communities.

With depressing predictability, the Sharia (Islamic law)-based dynamic which underpins such blatant—and grotesque—religious persecution, was ignored by the mainstream media, including conservative outlets. Even the following specific (if merely allusive) statement contained within the Special Rapporteur’s analysis itself, did not get repeated.

the [Iranian] Government…states that its Constitution recognizes only Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism as minority religions and that adherents to those religions are entitled to manifest their beliefs, “within the limits of the law”, which is governed by Islamic sharia. [emphasis added]

For example, neither Benjamin Weinthal’s blog at NRO (“Iran’s Continued War on Christians,” 10/25/13), nor his lengthier Fox News piece (“Iran gives Christians 80 lashes for communion wine as UN blasts human rights record,” 10/24/13)—despite the fact that both accounts referenced Special Rapporteur Shaheed’s report—mentioned, let alone honestly elaborated upon, Shaheed’s allusion to sharia. Although Weinthal should not be singled out, per se, the discussion which follows demonstrates why his omission—pathognomonic of this consistent lacuna in contemporary “reportage” on Iran’s abuse of its vulnerable non-Muslim minority populations—is egregious, and unacceptable.

Read more at PJ Media

Lies and a Conviction: Iran Mocks Justice – Convicts and Sentences American Pastor Saeed

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Petition to Save Pastor Saeed Abedini from Iranian Prison

ACLJ:

By Jordan Sekulow Jan. 27, 2013

Our worst fears have been realized. This morning in Tehran on an empty promise that American Pastor Saeed Abedini might be released, his lawyer came to court.  The lawyer had no formal notice that his presence was required, only the casual request less than 24 hours before from a court administrator to a family friend that the lawyer should come to the court because it was releasing Pastor Saeed.  But this was all a lie.

Upon arriving at the court, Dr. Naser Sarbazi, Pastor Saeed’s lawyer, saw his client. He knew he had been deceived.

Without family present, Judge Pir-Abassi of Branch 26 of the Iranian Revolutionary Court – known as the “hanging judge” – verbally convicted and sentenced Pastor Saeed to eight years in prison for threatening the national security of Iran through his leadership in Christian house churches.  The evidence provided was of Pastor Saeed’s Christian activities primarily during the early 2000s, when under President Khatami house churches were not perceived as a threat to Iran. Despite Iranian law requiring a written verdict, none was given.

Here’s the troubling reality: A U.S. citizen, who has been beaten and tortured since his imprisonment last fall, is now facing eight years in Evin Prison, one of the most brutal prisons in Iran.

We represent Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, and her two children who live in the U.S. Upon hearing this injustice, Naghmeh, said: “The promise of his release was a lie.  We should not trust the empty words or promises put out by the Iranian government.  These false hopes amount to psychological torture.  You don’t want to trust them, but they build a glimmer of hope before the crushing blow.  With today’s development I am devastated for my husband and my family.  We must now pursue every effort, turn every rock, and not stop until Saeed is safely on American soil.”

We know that with the Iranian Revolutionary Court, Pastor Saeed’s conviction and sentence had to be approved at the very top – The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had to sign off.

Iran has not only abused its own laws, it has trampled on the fundamentals of human rights.  We call on the citizens of the world to rise up in protest.  We call on governments around the world to stand and defend Pastor Saeed.  As his wife has pleaded, starting with our own government, every effort must be pursued. We are calling on the State Department and the White House, which have both called for Pastor Saeed’s release, to engage further.

This is a real travesty. An U.S. citizen faces a lengthy prison term for simply because of his Christian faith.  Pastor Saeed now faces eight years in a harsh prison – likely facing life-threatening torture and abuse at the hands of the Iranian regime.

Please continue to pray for Pastor Saeed and his family. We will continue to utilize all of our efforts to see that justice is served and Pastor Saeed is safely in the arms of his loving wife and two children back home in the United States.

Jordan Sekulow is Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice.

U.S. Pastor Seized in Iran May Face Death Penalty

Pastor Saeed

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today called for the immediate release of Saeed Abedeni, an Iranian-American pastor reportedly awaiting a January 21 trial on trumped-up national security charges that date back to 2000 when he lived in Iran.

According to sources familiar with the case, Mr. Abedini was arrested in Iran in September 2012 for his involvement with the underground house church movement.  Mr. Abedini’s lawyer was unaware of the charges until January 14, when he was informed the trial would be held on Monday, January 21.

Mr. Abedini married an American citizen in 2004 and has lived in the United States since 2005.  He became a U.S. citizen in 2010 and periodically travels back and forth to Iran.

“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,” said USCIRF chair Katrina Lantos Swett.  “USCIRF calls on the Iranian government to release Mr. Abedini immediately and unconditionally.”

Mr. Abedeni’s trial reportedly is scheduled to be heard by Judge Abbas Pir-Abbassi of Branch 26 of Iran’s Revolutionary Court.  “Judge Pir-Abbassi is notorious for conducting swift trials and imposing lengthy prison terms, as well as the death penalty, without any semblance of due process,” said Lantos Swett.

An Iranian news outlet reports that Abedeni wrote in a letter to his wife that he has been subjected to torture and threatened with death by hanging. He is being held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

In 2011, under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), USCIRF called on the U.S. government to impose travel bans and asset freezes on three “hanging judges” — Judge Pir-Abbassi, Judge Salavati and Judge Moghiseh — for committing serious human rights abuses against Iranian citizens, including religious minorities.  In April 2011, the European Union imposed sanctions for human rights violations on all three judges.  The U.S. government has not as yet followed suit.

Read more at Radical Islam

via US Commission Demands Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini’s Immediate Release Days  Before Trial:

The ACLJ further reminded concerned citizens that although  President Barack Obama and the rest of the U.S. marked National Religious  Freedom Day on Jan. 16, pastors like Abedini and many other people of faith  remain imprisoned based on dubious charges, and the State Department needs to  step up and do everything possible to help them in their plight.

“Today, we also remember that religious liberty is not just an American  right; it is a universal human right to be protected here at home and across the  globe. This freedom is an essential part of human dignity, and without it our  world cannot know lasting peace,” Obama  wrote in a statement on Jan. 16.

The ACLJ says that over 100,000 people have signed a petition to the U.S. Congress calling for  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to personally speak up for Pastor Abedini’s  release.

White House Has No Statement on Trial of American Citizen in Iran

Go to ACLG to sign the petition to free Pastor Saeed

Islam Unplugged

People of all faiths across the world are witnessing the reappearance of events many hoped and believed belonged only to the pages of Islamic history. Shrieking mobs in Afghanistan spend hours, day after day, calling for blood because prison officials disposed of illicit detainee communications that happened to be scrawled on the pages of some Qur’ans. An Iranian pastor awaits hanging on death row after being convicted of apostasy by converting to Christianity from Islam. 

 Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani with his family

 A young Saudi blogger has been extradited from Malaysia with the assistance of Interpol to face a likely death penalty because comments he made on Twitter are considered blasphemous to Islam. Even in the United States of America, a Pennsylvania judge ruled against the victim of a public physical assault because the assailant is a Muslim who claimed to be defending Islam.

These incidents, shocking as they may seem to those who have no knowledge of Islamic law (shariah), in general actually accord with authoritative doctrine, law and scriptures as well as the history of Islam. While it’s to be expected that most prominent Muslim leadership figures will either remain mute or express support for what is happening in these cases, it’s still startling and frankly depressing to see Western leaders fail to speak out forthrightly in defense of those Judeo-Christian principles upon which our legal systems are founded. This is what Islamic law looks like when permitted full latitude of enforcement. This is Islam unplugged.

In Afghanistan, prison officials discovered inmates had defaced their own copies of the Qur’an for the purpose of illicit communications among themselves. Those officials quite properly confiscated the books that had such writing in them and sent them to be burned, which is the method of disposal recommended by the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center, modern Islamic scholars and also as commanded by the Caliph Uthman, according to the authoritative hadith of Sahih Bukhari.

Pathetic, groveling apologies by the American president, top Pentagon officials as well as field commanders are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous in time of war because they encourage perceptions of the U.S. as too weak to stand in defense of its own convictions. It should be noted that the February 24, 2012, point-blank shooting inside the ostensibly secure spaces of the Interior Ministry in Kabul of two senior American NATO officials by an Afghan gunman followed after the Islamic world took the measure of America’s piteous response to mob violence in the streets. Careless handling of the Qur’an by kuffar (infidels) is an offense against Islamic law, which is enshrined in the Afghan constitution. American troops are not in Afghanistan, fighting, dying and coming home grievously injured to uphold shariah: They are there to defend the U.S. Constitution and American national security – and it is time that our senior leaders understood that.  

In Iran, a 34-year old father of two has been sentenced to death for apostasy after he refused to recant his conversion from Islam to Christianity. An Iranian trial court issued its final order of execution in mid-February, 2012. The case of Youcef Nadarkhani, who’s been held in Evin Prison for two years, has received widespread publicity, mostly because so few Westerners understand that apostasy is and always has been a capital crime under Islamic law. Iranian intransigence over its nuclear weapons program and belligerence over international efforts aimed at obtaining its compliance with United Nations Resolutions have ratcheted up tensions with the Tehran regime.

This case has outraged Christians and other faithful across the world who believe that freedom of belief is a universal right. Most, unfortunately, have no concept of Islamic law, which exists entirely outside of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, since all Muslim countries of the world (members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation—OIC) explicitly renounced it in the 1990 Cairo Declaration.

The OIC Cairo Declaration essentially defined Islamic human rights as only those which comport with shariah; it was presented formally to the UN in 1993. Shariah not only mandates amputation, crucifixion and flogging for some crimes, but also stipulates that adultery, apostasy, blasphemy/slander, homosexuality and “making mischief in the land” can all be punished by death.

Iranian courts are in full compliance with Islamic law and their own constitution. Instead of blaming the Iranian judges for this obscene death sentence, it is Islamic law itself that must be recognized as hostile and incompatible with any modern conception of human rights. Anyplace where shariah is allowed to be fully implemented and enforced, this is the result. This is Islam unplugged.

Hamza Kashgari is a young Saudi who showed an appalling disregard for his own life by posting some comments on Twitter that the Saudi legal system decided were blasphemous against the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Kashgari formerly was a columnist for Saudi Arabia’s Al-Bilad newspaper when he tweeted an imaginary conversation he was having with Muhammad. In short order, he was fleeing his homeland for his life; unfortunately, his itinerary included a plane change in Malaysia, another Islamic country where shariah is enforced. Thanks to INTERPOL cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Kashgari was arrested there and returned to Saudi Arabia, where he faces trial on blasphemy charges that could result in the death penalty. This is all perfectly legal under shariah. This, too, is Islam unplugged.

Here is a good place to note that on December 16, 2009, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order that grants the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) rights on American soil that place it beyond the reach of our own law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Obama’s order removed important restrictions placed on INTERPOL by President Reagan in 1983 and gave this foreign law enforcement organization the authority to avoid Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, which is an important safeguard for American citizens against government abuse. This means that American citizens now lack the ability to hold INTERPOL accountable under the FOIA for potentially the same kind of arrest action that snatched Kashgari back from the brink of freedom and sent him to a possible death sentence in Saudi Arabia.

And finally, there is the mid-February, 2012, case of the Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania man who was physically assaulted on the street for wearing a Halloween costume depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a Zombie. There is no question about the assault, as it was captured on video. There is no question about the guilt of the Muslim immigrant who attacked him or why: He candidly admitted his guilt in a court of law and explained that he did it because the costume offended him as a Muslim. The astonishing thing is that Pennsylvania Magistrate Judge Mark Martin agreed with the Muslim assailant that he had the right and even obligation to physically bludgeon someone he perceived as insulting Muhammad.

The victim in this case, one Ernest Perce, is the PA head of American Atheists, and at the time of the attack, was walking next to another individual wearing a costume depicting the Catholic Pope as a Zombie. The Pope Zombie was not attacked.

Judge Martin’s shameful commentary from the bench was recorded on tape by the victim and provides a frightening glimpse of Islamic law being practiced in an American court of law. Judge Martin not only dismissed the charges against the Muslim assailant, but actually lectured the victim of the assault on the limits of free speech and expression under shariah.

Martin apparently served in the U.S. military in Iraq and may have converted to Islam while there (although the audio recording of his claim to being “a Muslim” is a bit indistinct). In any case, this is an American judge who is sworn under oath to uphold the Constitution of the USA and yet deliberately abrogated that solemn responsibility in order to set free a Muslim who acted in accordance with shariah in a way that would be legal in a Muslim country subjugated to Islamic law—but not in America. In Pennsylvania and the rest of these United States, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution still rules. Judge Martin acted as an Islamic qadi instead of an American judge and should be dismissed and disbarred immediately.

 

Clare M. Lopez is a senior fellow at the Clarion Fund and writes regularly for RadicalIslam.org. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism issues. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).