Campaign calls for Pastor Saeed Abedini’s release from Iranian prison
More than 3,000 Christians used social media on November 21 to call for the release of a pastor, Saeed Abedini imprisoned in Iran, as part of a new campaign to support the pastor, a U.S. citizen and convert to Christianity. “This represents a tremendous outpouring of concern for Pastor Saeed,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice. “It is clear that the power of social media is significant and that thousands of people want to send a message directly to the leadership in Iran: free Pastor Saeed – he is no threat to the security of Iran.”
Pastor Saeed Abedini
Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned in Iran since September 2012 charged with threatening national security. He has been sentenced to eight years in jail, although religious freedom advocates argue that his Christian faith is actually responsible for his arrest.
Raised a Muslim in Iran
He raised a Muslim in Iran, converted to Christianity in 2000 and became a United States citizen in the year 2010 after marrying a U.S citizen. He and his wife lived Idaho with their children. After his conversion, he worked with house churches in Iran. Although the churches are technically legal, he work drew objections from the Iranian government. He has worked solely with non-religious orphanages in the country. He was arrested during a trip to work with the orphanages.
During the Social Media campaign on November 21 asked supporters to send Twitter messages containing the hashtag "#SaveSaeed" to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, asking them to free Abedini. The media campaign is the latest initiative to support the imprisoned pastor. A petition calling for Abedini’s freedom has attracted more than 240,000 signatures and both U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have also asked for his release, along with the U.S. Senate and members of the European Parliament.
Demonstrations of support for the pastor have been held throughout the United States. In addition, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bipartisan resolution condemning Iran’s persecution of religious minorities and urging Abedini’s immediate release. The Senate unanimously passed a similar resolution Nov. 14. The U.S. and Iran are conducting talks in Geneva aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear program and those backing Abedini hope the time is right for his freedom. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have both spoken out for Abedini’s release.
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