An American pastor currently held in Iranian prison is facing a grim future after it was announced that his case was recently transferred to a judge accused of human rights violations and infamous for the number of people he has sentenced to death.
"This new development is highly troubling -- it appears Iran is determined to remove any chance of the American pastor receiving any semblance of a fair trial. Even more troubling is that the U.S. government has remained silent, essentially abandoning this American in his search for justice," Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice, said in a report shared with The Christian Post. The ACLJ is representing Pastor Saeed Abedini's family in the U.S.
Abedini, 32, grew up in Iran, before converting to Christianity at the age of 20, and marrying an American woman in 2002, which helped him gain U.S. citizenship. Along with his wife, Naghmeh, and their two young children, the pastor has traveled back and forth between Iran and the U.S. a number of times in the past few years, helping create a network of underground churches, which provide a safe haven for Muslims who have converted to Christianity. more >>
Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was re-released from prison on Monday, Jan. 7, after authorities surprisingly arrested him on Christmas Day and forced the evangelical Christian minister to spend the holidays behind bars.
Pastor Nadarkhani was forced to go back to Lakan Prison in Rasht on Dec. 25, apparently to serve the remainder of his sentence, another 40 days, and to complete paperwork that authorities say he had not filled out.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) confirmed the news of the pastor's release to The Christian Post, but a representative said the organization was not certain why prison officials decided to release Nadharkhani before he served the full 40 days. more >>
Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was taken back to prison on Christmas Day allegedly because of improperly completed paperwork, multiple sources have said, denying him the chance to celebrate the birth of Christ at home with his family.
Persecution watchdog groups Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) and Present Truth Ministries both reported the news, saying that pastor Nadarkhani has had to go back to Lakan Prison in Rasht to serve the remainder of his time in prison, another 40 days, and to complete paperwork that authorities say he had not filled out.
"We are disappointed to hear Pastor Nadarkhani has been returned to prison in such an irregular manner," said Mervyn Thomas, CSW's Chief Executive. more >>
Jailed Iranian pastor Behnam Irani, who was last month denied hospitalization despite his critical condition, wrote a letter from his prison cell days before Christmas, ministering to Christians in his country and thanking God for letting him share "very little of" Jesus' suffering on the cross.
"Despite the pressure and difficulties in prison, I am pleased to share, what is like a fountain, my Christian joy with you in the new Christmas days to come," wrote Irani, who is currently serving a six-year sentence, according to the letter translated by Minnesota-based Present Truth Ministries, which has missionaries and pastors working in various Middle Eastern countries.
"My brothers and sisters, I love you all. Christ has given you to me on Calvary. Even if I were sentenced to many years behind bars for the salvation of one of you, there would never be any complaint," said the pastor in his 40s in the letter, seemingly written to the people he has ministered to and Christian workers in Iran. more >>
A Christian persecution watchdog has started a new campaign pledging support for a pastor in a critical medical state and currently imprisoned in Iran, as well as the many other believers facing persecution around the world.
"As you read this, Pastor Behnam Irani's health is in critical condition and there is a very real chance he will die in Ghezel Hesar prison if he remains in his current condition," Christian Solidarity Worldwide explains in a statement shared with The Christian Post by Kiri Kankhwende, press officer for the organization.
Pastor Irani was arrested back in 2011, allegedly for acting against the interests of national security, although persecution watch groups have maintained that the real reason was for his preaching of the Gospel and leading people to Christ in the largely Islamic country. He had been leading the Church of Iran in the city of Karaj in Alborz Province, and is currently serving a six-year sentence in Ghezel Hesar prison. more >>
A U.N. special report on persecuted religious minorities in Iran has found that the Baha'i faith is the most targeted in the Islamic country, and it has warned that further economic sanctions may make life more difficult also for all people in Iran.
"By and large I would say the Baha'is are the most persecuted religious minority in Iran," Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Iran said before a seminar at the International Peace Institute in New York on Monday.
As both President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney made clear in Monday night's foreign policy debate, they plan to impose further sanctions on Iran to make it more difficult for the Middle Eastern country to acquire nuclear weapon capabilities. However, Shaheed has warned that this would also have harsh consequences for everyday Iranians, as they will suffer from a lack of accessible medicine and other basic human needs. more >>