ORLANDO, Fla. — The wife of an American pastor imprisoned in Iran for conducting missionary and humanitarian work in the nation spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday, urging her country to do more to free her husband.
“My question is—as I’m proud to see my husband stand up for his faith in the face of evil—how are we standing up as a country for him?,” Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Saeed Abedini of Idaho, asked. “What kind of message are we sending to the world when we continue to negotiate while Iran continues to abuse one of our own, an American pastor?”
As previously reported, Abedini, a former Iranian Muslim turned Christian, left Iran in 2005 and moved to the United States with his wife and two children to find religious freedom after facing conflict with authorities for planting house churches in the county. In 2012, 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 the past two years behind bars.
In November 2013, Abedini was transported to Rajai Shahr Prison, which was believed to pose an even greater threat to Abedini’s health and safety. Last May, while obtaining treatment at a local hospital for injuries sustained from beatings, he was likewise beaten and returned to prison.
Abedini’s wife requested a face-to-face meeting with Barack Obama in January as he was scheduled to speak at an area university. She later told reporters that Obama advised her that “getting Saeed out is a top priority and he is working very hard to get Saeed home back to our family.”
But on Saturday, while speaking at CPAC in Orlando, Naghmeh Abedini expressed disappointment over the lack of voices speaking out for religious freedom, including in regard to her husband’s plight in Iran.
“Silence in the face of evil is evil itself,” she said. “That means when we don’t act and we don’t speak, we are doing the same things that the persecutors are doing to my husband. … When we don’t speak in the face of evil, we’re doing that evil ourselves.”
Abedini warned that if American Christians remain silent regarding the persecution of Christians in other nations, they will see persecution come to their own soil.
“If we don’t address what’s going on across the world, it will be something we will have to deal with here,” she declared. “And we’re seeing we’re losing our religious freedom here.”
The pastor’s wife and mother of two exhorted those gathered with Scripture’s contingent promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14, which reads, “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
“This great nation is blessed because of our foundation on Jesus Christ,” Abedini said. “My prayer is that … we would turn our eyes back on Jesus, that we will repent of the ways that we have looked to other things to fulfill us, and that we would turn our eyes back to Jesus and pray and cry out for healing for our nation, and that we get back to our core value of religious freedom.”