The children of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran have appeared in an online video plea to President Obama, asking that he ‘help bring [their] daddy home.’
As previously reported, Saeed Abedini, a former Muslim turned Christian, left Iran in 2005 and moved to the United States with his wife and children to find religious freedom. Last fall, he traveled back to Iran to build an orphanage and visit his parents—and was about to return to the states—when he was taken into custody.
Abedini was later charged with threatening the national security of Iran, and for attempting to turn youth in the nation away from Islam and toward Christianity. He was then sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, where he has spent nearly two years behind bars.
In November, Abedini was transported to Rajai Shahr Prison, which was believed to pose an even greater threat to Abedini’s health and safety. In May, while obtaining treatment at a local hospital for injuries sustained from beatings, he was likewise beaten and returned to prison.
“Dear President Obama, please help bring my daddy home,” Rebekka and Jacob Abedini, the two young children of the American pastor, state in a video recently released by the Abedini family. “I miss him so much.”
“Why does Daddy have to be in prison for loving Jesus?” Rebekka asks.
In another clip, Jacob explains how his heart continually cries over the absence of his father.
“My heart cries because it misses Daddy,” he explains. “When I sleep, it cries, and it misses Daddy a lot … a thousand lots.”
“[I]t doesn’t stop crying,” Jacob continues. “And it’s crying right now.”
Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, then asks her son how he knows his heart is crying. He replies, “I can feel it.”
“I pray that Daddy will come back home,” Rebekka says tearfully, “But he’s still not back home.”
The Abedini family is asking that supporters share the video with others and send a message to the White House to work harder to bring the pastor, husband and father home.
As previously reported, Obama first spoke publicly about Abedini’s plight during the National Prayer Breakfast in February.
“We pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini,” he said. “He’s been held in Iran for more than 18 months, sentenced to eight years in prison on charges related to his Christian beliefs.”
“And as we continue to work for his freedom, 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,” Obama added.
Reports also state that Obama referenced the pastor while speaking on the phone with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani last September.
“[A] source stated that President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case along with two other Americans directly with the Iranian president,” the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) stated. “According to the report, President Obama raised concerns about the imprisonment of Saeed and expressed our country’s interest in seeing the American pastor returned to his family.”
But Naghmeh Abedini believes that Obama should be working harder for her husband’s release as he remains imprisoned for his faith.
“My husband is suffering because he is a Christian. He is suffering because he is an American,” she told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last December. “Yet, his own government, at least the executive and diplomatic representatives, has abandoned him. Don’t we owe it to him as a nation to stand up for his human rights, for his freedom?”