More than 460 prayer vigils in 30 countries and territories next week are set to mark the two year anniversary of American pastor Saeed Abedini's imprisonment for his faith in Iran.
"The kids and I are longing to see Saeed returned home safely to us. The kids have been suffering for too long. Our family is ready. It is time," said Naghmeh Abedini, the pastor's wife.
"We are praying for a miracle. My hope is that, as thousands gather together on Sept. 26, our governments and leaders will be reminded of the importance of religious freedom for all and continue to pressure Iran to secure Saeed's release." more >>
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke out against terror group ISIS in a recent interview, saying that the militants "want to kill humanity." He also harshly criticized American President Barack Obama's plan to fight ISIS with airstrikes but without any ground troops, calling it "ridiculous" and wondering whether Americans are not afraid to suffer casualties in the war.
"They want to kill humanity," Rouhani told NBC News about ISIS, which has declared the creation of an 'Islamic State' in the territory of Iraq and Syria, but has been denounced by a number of Islamic countries.
"And from the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent people equals the killing of the whole humanity. And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people, in fact, is a matter of shame for them and it's the matter of concern and sorrow for all the human and all the mankind." more >>
Pastor Behnam Irani, an evangelical Christian leader from Iran who is already serving six years in prison, has reportedly been hit by 18 new charges, including one of "spreading corruption on Earth," which carries the death penalty.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas told BosNewsLife the group is "deeply concerned by the new charges against Pastor Irani," especially the charge of "spreading corruption on Earth."
Thomas added that the charges made against Irani and other Christian leaders are "tantamount to an indictment of Christianity itself and mark a renewed escalation in Iran's campaign against Persian Christians under the Rouhani presidency." more >>
U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini is reportedly receiving death threats from ISIS jihadists at the Iranian prison where he is being held.
The militants have said that they will kill him because of his Christian faith, the American Center for Law and Justice reported in a press release. Abedini, who is being held at Rajai Shahr prison, spoke of the death threats with family members earlier this week.
While the ISIS militants are apparently being held in a separate section of the prison ward, they have managed on several occasions to make their way to the pastor's section on their way back from the prison yard, forcing Abedini to hide. more >>
The plight of U.S.-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini was highlighted by Secretary of State John Kerry during his remarks for the State Department's 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom, with Kerry promising to continue to work for the pastor's release.
"In Iran, U.S. Iranian citizen Pastor Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned. The Iranian authorities sentenced him to eight years behind bars simply because of his religious beliefs. We will continue to call for his release and we will continue to work for it," Kerry stated.
"And make no mistake: We will continue to stand up for religious minority communities under assault and in danger around the world, from Jehovah's Witnesses to Baha'is to Ahmadi Muslims." more >>
Multiple media reports indicate that a Christian in Iran was reportedly sentenced by a judge to have his lips burned with a cigarette after he failed to fast during the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
Although Islamic rule states that the month-long fasting period of Ramadan only applies to Muslims, the Christian man was reportedly punished publicly in the city of Kermanshah this week. Along with the Christian man's punishment, five Muslim men were reportedly flogged with 70 lashes each for failing to obey the fasting rules of Ramadan, the city's deputy Governor Ali Ashraf Karami told The Daily Mail.
One group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has condemned the recent public punishments, arguing that they are examples of Iran's unfair justice system that often target non-Muslim citizens. more >>