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U.S. News and Commentary



Friday
Mar152013

Witnesses’ claim: U.S. Government ‘can do nothing’ for jailed Christian pastor

The American Center for Law and Justice petition to free Pastor Saeed Abedini has drawn more than 500,000 signatures.(Screen snip: ACLJ)Naghmeh Abedini testified in Washington on Friday about her husband’s imprisonment in Iran, telling the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission she was disappointed in the U.S. Government, State Department and president.

Witnesses gave testimony on the topic, The Worsening Plight of Religious Minorities in Iran, and they said the State Dept. told Ms. Abedini, “[T]here is nothing the United States Government can do for you.”

An American citizen, jailed Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, has been sentenced to 8 years in a prison many reports describe as Iran’s worst, Evin Prison in Tehran.

Pastor Saeed was charged with threatening the national security of Iran after he preached Christianity in private homes in Iran.

Christians are a religious minority in Iran where Islamists control the government.

The American Center for Law and Justice has been one of the pastor’s most vocal supporters, publicizing the case and starting a petition. Shortly before the hearing was to commence on Friday morning, the ACLJ Facebook page  posted good news:

“Because of you we met our goal of 500,000 signatures for Pastor Saeed before today's congressional hearing. Please continue to spread the word, as the fight isn't over until Saeed is free.”

In contrast, Iran has often criticized international human rights efforts while at the same time demanding more respect for a single religion. President Barack Obama actually supported Iran’s position shortly after his first term in office began, by indirectly acceding to UN Resolution 7/19 when the president sought and obtained a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

That resolution specified protection for one faith—Islam.

Legacy media didn’t report Obama’s decision although he was the first U.S. president to seek a seat on the Council.

Iran isn’t alone in seeking special status for a single faith; many Islamist countries are on board with that approach. On the same day Mrs. Abedini testified in Washington, Iran’s state news publication IRNA recounted an Iranian official who chastised the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, accusing the Council of “political stances.”

IRNA reported:

He underlined that realization of international rules and regulations is the best way to progress forward in human rights.

The official’s goal, however, would be illegal if the U.S. Government adopted it because of limits on federal powers established in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), co-chair of the congressional Human Rights Commission in the U.S., issued a statement. An excerpt suggests there is no freedom of faith in Iran:

“Since the beginning of 2012, there has been an increase in the arrest, imprisonment and killing of religious and cultural minorities in Iran – particularly Christians, Baha’is and Sufi Muslims.  The State Department has designated Iran as a ‘country of particular concern’ (CPC) every year since 1999 while members of minority communities continue to flee Iran in significant numbers for fear of persecution, unjust detention and even death.  According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), ‘more than 500 Baha’is have been arbitrarily arrested since 2005,’ while since June 2010 alone, ‘approximately 300 Christians have been arbitrarily arrested and detained.’  More recently, Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced to eight years in prison for allegedly promoting Christianity in Iran.”

Although President Obama has not addressed Pastor Abedini’s case publicly, the president did apologize to Islamists he thought offended by an obscure film created by an amateur before the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Obama and the U.S. State Dept. repeatedly apologized to Islamists for insults to a Muslim prophet although the U.S. Government had nothing to do with the film.

Americans would later learn the film had nothing to do with the attacks in Benghazi that killed 4 Americans and injured others.

During the hearing on Capitol Hill, Mrs. Abedini said, "I'm disappointed that this great country is not doing more to free my husband -- a U.S. citizen. I expect more from our government."

(Filed by Kay B. Day/March 15, 2013)

Related articles at The US Report

Christian pastor jailed for faith as Iran cultural agency promotes “tolerance”

Clinton theatrics aside, five reasons the truth about Benghazi does make a difference

Obama’s decision on UN Human Rights Council his worst yet

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