For the past two years Nagmeh Abedini has been living a nightmare that would be hard for many of us to imagine.
Her husband, Saeed Abedini, an American pastor living in Boise, Idaho, has been sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran, held on charges related to his Christian faith. Abedini has been held in Iran for 18 months so far.
He was recently transferred from Evin Prison to the excessively brutal Rajai Shahr Prison, where he is now held alongside violent criminals.
“Now I'm even more afraid for his life,” Naghmeh told reporters in the wake of the transfer. “The blow that has come with this news has been even harder than the blow that came with his initial arrest.”
Open Doors, an organization working on behalf of Christians persecuted for their faith worldwide, has ranked Iran as 9th on their World Watch List. The list ranks the most dangerous and restrictive countries in the world for Christian believers.
Today, Nagmeh Abedini divides her time between relentlessly advocating for her husband and caring for their two young children. She chronicles their daily lives and efforts for Saeed with regular updates on Facebook.
Her last post, dated February 14, describes her family’s Valentine’s Day.
“After spending the Valentine’s Day with my kids at their classroom parties and then finishing off with dinner and taking them to the movies, I came home to a room filled with candles and flowers and a sweet card from Saeed!” she wrote.
“This is the one year I would have not expected anything from him!!! But he had told his dad on the last prison visit to call my family here and arrange a sweet Valentines surprise! He wanted to make sure that I knew that he had not forgotten about me on valentines! Such a sweet gift. Could not hold back the tears. “
Participants at the National Prayer Breakfast heard President Obama call on the Iranian government to release Saeed Abedini.
“We pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini,” the president said. “He’s been held in Iran for more than 18 months, sentenced to eight years in prison on charges relating to his Christian beliefs. And as we continue to work for his freedom, today, again, we call on the Iranian government to release Pastor Abedini so he can return to the loving arms of his wife and children in Idaho. “
With concerted efforts underway to free Saeed, there does appear to be a glimmer of hope in the pastor’s case.
The Be Heard Project, a project of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), quotes Iran’s foreign minister as saying, “We have various clemency measures in Iran that … can be introduced again in these cases.”
Abedini’s release is possible, but it will require sustained pressure on the Iranian government. It’s crucial, now more than ever before, to speak out for the release of this courageous prisoner of conscience.
Sign a petition for Saeed Abedini’s release. Follow Nagmeh Abedini on Facebook. And take a moment to share Saeed’s story with your friends. Together we can help make a difference for this courageous man and his family.
Kristin Wright is a writer covering human rights, women’s issues, and religious freedom for ReligionToday.com and The Huffington Post, among other publications. Wright has worked with victims of trafficking in Mumbai’s “red light” district, interviewed individuals on both sides of the conflict in Israel and the West Bank, and worked with victims of rape and forced marriage in Pakistan. Wright recently returned from a trip to the Syrian border where she interviewed refugees fleeing the conflict. She currently serves in the Office of the President at Open Doors USA.
Publication Date: February 18, 2014.