A Pastor’s Fate Inside the Mullahs’ Archipelago

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). 


pastor-saeed-abediniIn January, an American Christian was sentenced to an eight-year prison sentence on charges of “endangering national security” in Iran.  A 32-year-old married father of two from Boise, Idaho, Pastor Saeed Abedini traveled to his country of origin last year to visit family and help build an orphanage, only to be arrested and sent to Tehran’s brutal Evin prison.

According to Fox News, Abedini, a Muslim convert to Christianity—also known as an apostate deserving of death under Islamic Sharia law—is “facing physical and psychological torture at the hands of captors demanding he renounce his beliefs.” In a recent letter smuggled to family members, he recounted the “horrific pressures” and “death threats” he endures: “My eyes get blurry, my body does not have the strength to walk, and my steps become very weak and shaky…  They are only waiting for one thing… for me to deny Christ. But they will never get this from me.”

Indeed, the authorities’ words are “Deny your faith in Jesus Christ and return to Islam or else you will not be released from prison. We will make sure you are kept here even after your 8 year sentence is finished.”

While Pastor Abedini’s medieval-style sufferings may come as a surprise to many Americans, they are regular features of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Recall the persecution of Pastor Youssef Nadarkhani, another Muslim who converted to Christianity.  He too was imprisoned, placed on death row, and tortured to renounce Christ for nearly three years.  Then, likely due to the international scandal his story caused for Iran, he was released—only to be rearrested again, on Christmas Day, adding insult to injury.

And just as Tehran claims that Abedini was arrested for “threatening national security,” so was Nadarkhani formally accused of anything and everything—from being a “Zionist spy” to running a brothel—even as Iran’s official Supreme Court ruling made clear that Nadarkhani was

convicted of turning his back on Islam [i.e., apostatizing], the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19. He has often participated in Christian worship and organized home church services, evangelizing and has been baptized and baptized others, converting Muslims to Christianity. He has been accused of breaking Islamic Law…  During court trials, he denied the prophecy of Mohammad and the authority of Islam. He has stated that he is a Christian and no longer Muslim. During many sessions in court with the presence of his attorney and a judge, he has been sentenced to execution by hanging…

Nor are pastors Abedini and Nadarkhani the only ones to be so obviously persecuted for their Christian faith: countless are the Christians and Muslim converts to Christianity that Iranian authorities harass, imprison, and torture in an attempt to have them renounce Christ.  A few recent examples follow:

Mohabet News reported that four Muslim converts to Christianity were arrested in February during house-church worship and “taken to the Revolutionary Court of Shiraz several times in a pitiful condition with their hands and feet chained.”  They were charged with the usual: “participating in house-church services, evangelizing and promoting Christianity … and disturbing national security.” The report elaborates on the “obvious mental and physical torture” Iran’s converts to Christianity experience in prison.

Another house church pastor, Benham Irani, remains behind bars even as his family expresses concerns that he may die from continued beatings, leading to internal bleeding and other ailments. The verdict against him contains text describing him as an apostate who “can be killed.” According to one activist, “His ‘crimes’ were being a pastor and possessing Christian materials.”

A six-year prison sentence for Pastor Farshid Fathi Malayeriwhose crime was to convert to and preach Christianity—was upheld last year following an unsuccessful appeal hearing.  A woman, Leila Mohammadi, who had earlier converted to Christianity was arrested when security agents raided her house. Imprisoned for five months in Evin prison without any word on her fate, she was later sentenced to two years in prison.

June  report indicated that, five months after five Christian converts were arrested, their condition and fate was still unknown. They were accused of “attending house church services, promoting Christianity, propagating against the regime and disturbing national security.” Being imprisoned for 130 days without word “is an obvious example of physical and mental abuse of the detainees…. one of the prison guards openly told one of these Christian detainees that all these pressures and uncertainties are intended to make them flee the country after they are released.”

A young woman who had recently converted to Christianity and was an outspoken activist against the Islamic regime, was found dead, slumped over her car’s steering wheel, with a single gunshot wound to her head.

Then there are Iran’s many other faces of Christian persecution, including shutting down churches, regular crackdowns on house-church gatheringsconfiscating Bibles and other Christian literature, and banning church services in Farsi.

For all that, Iran’s persecution of Christians is a minor reflection of a much bigger, rarely reported humanitarian crisis: Christian suffering from one end of the Islamic world to the other, which I document in my new book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, by connecting-the-dots and exposing the same patterns of persecution.

For example, what happens to Christians in Iran—arrested and harassed for being apostates to Christianity or for preaching Christ—happens in countries as different from Iran as Indonesia, Egypt, and Nigeria.  Countries that share neither race, language, or culture—only Islam.

Patterns are not only evident in the Muslim world’s persecution of Christians, but in the Obama administration’s indifference.  The U.S. State Department has excluded Abedini from its Iran Prisoners List—commensurate with the fact that it regularly whitewashes the sufferings of Christians under Islam, and even failed to cite Egypt and Pakistan as “nations of particular concern” despite the fact that Christians there are being hounded mercilessly, as documented in the book.

The persecution of Pastor Abedini, an American citizen in Iran, is the tip of the iceberg of the persecution of Christians under Islam—persecution that, try as they may, the mainstream media, the Obama administration, and all the politically correct powers that be, cannot ignore out of existence, especially now that it is  fully exposed and documented in Crucified Again.

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  • Nanis

    If they are any liberal Christians or liberals who call themselves Christians don't they care or have any idea what their vote and their zombie-like atitude caused to so many fellow Christians………… Stuff like this make us (Christians) look like hypocrites, because we can even help our own fellow Christians. They are hanging from a tread and we see it and we just keep silent………

  • Deep Space

    Pastor Abedini's punishment is an utter indictment of the barbarity of the Iranian legal and political system. However, he was a naturalized American citizen who had to have understood the nature of this system before he returned to Iran to preach the Gospel. Why wasn't being an American enough without having to return to "his country of origin". I think its because there is a type of immigrant who will never be an American in their heart and they – in this case – somehow believe that by virtue of having become a citizen they will be protected when they return to their 'country of origin'.

    • jojofobo

      They may return, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer did to Germany, because they feel a responsibility to their former countrymen and to civilization as a whole and cannot ignore the weight of that responsibility.

  • sam000

    Dear Mister Ibrahim;
    Don't be mistaken, the torture of the Christian Pastor and the repression of the faiths by the Iranian Mullahs are the reflection of the AMERICAN POLICY.
    If AMERICA is against this kind of BARBARIC behaviors, why it continues to negotiate with the Mullahs?
    When the Mullahs threaten to annihilate Israel, why USA CONTINUES to negotiate with the MULLAHS?
    Is USA more friend with the Mullahs than Israel?!
    The way USA kneels for the Mullahs, even a pig will be emboldened.

  • Looking4Sanity

    All Christians should be praying for Pastor Saeed Abedini's deliverance from his tormentors. Join me, won't you?

    Heavenly Father, we come to you in earnest prayer and supplication. Our hearts are burdened with the knowledge of one of your childrens persecution at the hands of those who curse you and revile your Statutes. We pray, Lord, that you would stretch out your hand and cause him to be delivered, that your Glory might be demonstrated to your enemies. We pray that by this sign, many more might see and come to their own relationship with you. In Christ Jesus' mighty name we pray. Amen

    • johnnywoods

      Amen.

  • Cassandra

    Pastor Abedeen is in my prayers .

  • pgk

    I hope you won't mind my making a small quibble with the use of the word "medieval" in a derogatory sense. Like all times, the medieval period had its positive and negative aspects. It was, for example, not exactly a high point in Jewish-Christian relations. But, would you not agree that the period that produced the Book of Kells, Notre Dame Cathedral, Oxford and Cambridge universities, and Hildegard von Bingen couldn't have been all bad?

  • LindaRivera

    Instead of rescuing persecuted Christians from Egypt and persecuted Christians, Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan and Bangladesh, in a HUGE crime against humanity, America and other Western countries are importing Muslims and DELIBERATELY turning their backs on non-Muslims desperate to escape.

    In Britain, UK leaders have massively colonized Britain with Pakistani Muslims who are severely persecuting British children.
    http://www.barenakedislam.com Traumatized 16-year-old British girl was brutally raped by 90 different Muslim men in one weekend
    Even worse, these savage attacks happened after authorities had said the girl was not at risk. Once shielded by the media, these gangs of Muslim (called ‘Asians’ in the UK) groomers (pimps) who abduct, rape, and prostitute young white girls are the focus of a shocking new report into modern-day sex slavery in the UK by the Centre for Social Justice… http://www.barenakedislam.com/2013/03/11/traumati

    INHUMAN, demonic Muslim monsters to continue subjecting Britain’s non-Muslim children to extreme physical and sexual violence.

    In OBEDIENCE to the Quran, devout Muslims are waging war against Britain and waging RAPE WAR against British children.

    INHUMAN, demonic Muslim monsters continue subjecting Britain’s non-Muslim children to extreme physical and sexual violence.

    In OBEDIENCE to the Quran, devout Muslims are waging war against Britain and waging RAPE WAR against British children with the full cooperation of UK ruling elites.

    Muslim Gangs Drug & Rape Children All Over The UK – Britain Finally Starts To Wake Up http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embed

    Which do Western ruling elites regard as a crime? Islamophobia: the fear of Muslim barbarism, or the many and terrible acts of inhuman, Muslim barbarism?

    Paul Weston on Islamophobia http://libertygb.org.uk/v1/index.php/news-liberty

    THERE IS NO ONE TO HELP THE CHILDREN! That is why we desperately need Paul Weston’s new political party, Liberty GB! http://libertygb.org.uk/v1/

    British Schoolgirl’s Testimony – Muslims Threaten Children With Violence & Rape Outside School Daily http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embed

    • TOE FOO

      MS Rivera,
      May we call you, Rio Linda?
      I ignore your posts because for some quirk of identity-fate YOU can post TWICE that of we.

      …and others under their registered name.

      ………..why is that?

      • LindaRivera

        I don't understand your post? In any case, keep posting your comments.

        That's good you ignore my posts if you don't like them!

        Have a good week.

  • 11bravo

    This "Pastor" knew exactly what he was in for – he is his own martyr, not mine. Our government should not be his advocate – PERIOD!

    • LindaRivera

      SILENCE IS CONSENT

  • LindaRivera

    The world is silent about the war against non-Muslims. The 1,400 WAR that NEVER stopped. It is a dreadful crime to remain silent!

    SILENCE IS CONSENT.

    Under Islam, Egypt’s Christians have lived in hell for centuries. The
    kidnappings, rapes and violent conversion to Islam of Christian
    children and other horrors has greatly worsened under the Muslim Brotherhood.
    What happened to Christian Egypt is a WARNING to the world.

    The next stage of a nation conquered by Muslims is the MASSIVE
    kidnapping of non-Muslim female CHRISTIAN children by male Muslims.

    The kidnappings are perpetrated with the full cooperation of ruling elites,
    courts and the police. The agonized parents NEVER get their beloved
    children back. The severely abused, terrorized girls are FOREVER
    separated from their loving parents and family. These terrible crimes
    against God and humanity must NOT be allowed to happen in America, Europe and
    Britain!

    Egyptian Christian Copts cry out in agony:
    SAVE US O LORD! WE HAVE NONE BUT YOU!

    Comment by Egyptian Christian Copt underneath video:

    “OUR WOMEN ARE TO BE ENSLAVED IN ISLAM OUR MEN ARE TO BE KILLED AND AMERICA RECEIVES MILLIONS OF ISLAMISTS WITH OPEN ARM AND REFUSE TO GIVE US ASYLUM.”

    The Passion of the Copts http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embed

  • 11bravo

    This guy went BACK to Iran knowing what he would get. Why are we trying to save him?

    He wants to be a Martyr – let him!!