Reports in Western media about the victory of a moderate cleric in Iran's presidential election have raised expectations for change in the Islamic republic, but local Christians doubt the next president, Hassan Rouhani, will be able to alleviate Christian persecution.
"In your Western media, the candidates are divided into conservatives and reformers, as if there is a choice, but let me tell you this: there is no choice. All of the candidates are from Ayatollah Khamenei's team," Open Doors ministry said in a statement, quoting an Iranian Christian believer.
Rouhani, who was Iran's nuclear negotiator during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami before that of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, can be expected to have a say only in the country's economic affairs and a few other civil matters, while matters that concern national security are solely the domain of Iran's supreme leader Khamenei. more >>
After the results of Iran's presidential election showed a landslide victory for Hassan Rouhani, a cleric and moderate politician, the White House said Saturday it respects the vote, congratulating the "courage" of Iranian voters in "making their voices heard." Washington also urged Tehran to "heed the will of the Iranian people."
"We respect the vote of the Iranian people and congratulate them for their participation in the political process, and their courage in making their voices heard," the White House said in a statement, following the victory of Rouhani over conservative hardliners eight years after the repressive rule of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"It is our hope that the Iranian government will heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices that create a better future for all Iranians," the statement said, adding, "Yesterday's election took place against the backdrop of a lack of transparency, censorship of the media, Internet, and text messages, and an intimidating security environment that limited freedom of expression and assembly." more >>
Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho has sent the Iranian people a message ahead of the presidential elections on Friday, reminding them of the imprisoned Pastor Saeed Abedini and pledging America's support in their search for freedom and democracy.
"An American citizen from my hometown of Boise, Idaho, Pastor Saeed Abedini, is currently being held in the Evin prison for practicing his faith and helping children in your country," Idaho's 28th Senator says in a 54-second video, which is also dubbed in the Farsi language. "For this and many other reasons, the citizens of America support your hope for freedom and democracy and wish you well as you find the path to a brighter future."
Pastor Abedini has been held in an Iranian prison ever since being arrested in September 2012 while he was working on an orphanage for children. He was later sentenced to 8 years in prison, supposedly for endangering national security. But the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents his wife, Naghmeh, and two children back in the U.S., has said that the sentence has more to do with the pastor's Christian faith. more >>
Demonstrations are being planned on Thursday at Iranian embassies around the world for imprisoned Pastor Saeed Abedini and other victims of the Islamic country's human rights abuses, with hopes that they will get the attention of many world leaders.
"The timing of these events aimed at highlighting human rights and Pastor Saeed's case directly to Iranian officials comes as Iran prepares for its own elections next week. It sends a powerful message at a time when Iran is listening," says Jordan Sekulow, the executive director for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
The event, called "Standing together for Human Rights in Iran," promises to be a day of "peaceful demonstrations," scheduled to take place at noon time in every country that decides to hold a demonstration. more >>
Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, was able to address the United Nations Human Rights Council for the first time directly on Tuesday, calling on world leaders to stand up for the principles they say they uphold and help her imprisoned husband.
"For nearly a year, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has tried to silence my husband, Saeed Abedini, through illegal imprisonment, torture, and threats against our family. Why is he being held – because he exercised his rights of religious freedom, expression, and peaceful assembly," Naghmeh Abedini began.
"I hope that my presence here today will put a face to those who suffer when a government does not uphold its obligation to protect these freedoms. . . ." more >>
The Central Assembles of God Church (AOG), Iran's largest Persian-speaking Pentecostal church, was closed during a worship service on Monday, according to BosNewsLife. Its pastor, Robert Asserian, was detained on May 21 and moved to an unknown location.
BNL said that the Islamic authorities are "eager to maintain their influence [and] wary of groups deemed dangerous to their power base, including growing Christian churches."
"These incidents appear to be an attempt to stop worship services from being conducted in Farsi, the language of the majority of Iranians," said George O. Wood, general superintendent of AOG in the United States. "Services are allowed in Armenian, a minority language that most Iranians do not speak or even understand." more >>