A pastor in need of medical attention in an Iranian prison is in the news again, with Germany and the United States both calling for the immediate release of the Iranian convert to Christianity. Pastor Saeed Abedini, a citizen of both the US and Iran, has been imprisoned since 2012 according to a press statement from the German Federal Foreign Office. The accusations against Abedini focus mostly on his efforts to set up house churches. Officially he was accused by Iran of “endangering national security.”
German Commissioner for Human Rights Policy at the Federal Foreign Office, Christoph Strässer, recently met with Abedini’s wife. According to the German press release, Strässer said he was informed the jailed pastor is in a “poor state of health” and “continues to be refused urgently needed medical treatment.” Strässer said the report gave him “great concern” as he urged the pastor be released.
“I call upon Iran to quash Pastor Abedini’s sentence—and the sentences of all those imprisoned merely on account of their religious belief—without delay,” said Strässer.
“Until he is released, I appeal to all those responsible in Iran to grant him urgently needed medical treatments, including outside the prison. Dealing with prisoners humanely and respectfully is a humanitarian imperative.”
Religious persecution is a normal thing for certain religious activities in Iran, noted the German press release. While some general religious freedoms are held by religious minorities, converting from Islam and missionary activity can result in death sentences.
Germany isn’t the only nation publicly calling for Abedini’s release. US spokesperson Jeff Rathke told reporters this week in comments released by the State Department that US Secretary of State John Kerry was expected to again raise Abedini’s situation with the Iranian foreign minister when they next meet. Rathke also called for Abedini to be released.
Abedini, according to the Germans, was arrested while visiting Iran in September 2012 and eventually sentenced to eight years in prison. He and his wife Naghmeh Panahi-Abedini have two children.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 27, 2015)