While Iran applauds the deal reached with the Iranian nuclear program drafted by the Obama administration and six nations, religious persecution remains rampant and three Americans are still in Iranian prison, which includes American Pastor Saeed Abedini, an issue that has largely been ignored by those nations and the Obama administration. The deal was reached in the early morning hours on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. The process ended after 17 straight days of negotiating, and more than 20 months of talks between Iran and the group known as the P5+1 in which the nations were the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany.
Concerning the Iranian nuclear deal, those imprisoned in Iran also include nearly 90 Christians. The International Christian Concern (ICC) on Wednesday through email communications expressed serious concerns that while the deal was reached, the fate of those Americans and other Christians that are behind bars for their faith was not addressed.
Naghmeh Abedini, wife of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini told ICC, “Saeed is not part of the deal. There has not been “any assurance from State Department if his release has even been secured on the sidelines.” Naghmeh Abedini, had appeared before the House of Foreign Affairs Committee in June 2015, alongside of family members of the others held in Iran and pleaded for a greater effort to be made on behalf of her husband.
ICC reported that the American hostages held by Iran include former Marine Amir Hekmati, Washington Post reported that Jason Rezaian, held for one year this month, and Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has now been held for over 1,000 days. Saeed was imprisoned on September 26, 2012. On the morning of January 27, 2013, Pastor Saeed stood before Judge Pir-Abassi in Tehran to receive his verdict from a show trial. He was convicted of so-called “undermining national security” for his work among house churches in Iran from 2000 to 2005.
“The absence of any progress on the release of Pastor Abedini and the other Americans, Iran’s horrendous human rights record, especially regarding religious freedom, and its role as a leading state sponsor of terrorism, all raise serious concerns about this deal, “ ICC stated. “While President Obama has mentioned Saeed’s case and, after years of delay, met with his wife during a trip to Idaho, no real progress has been made towards his release despite more than 20 months of negotiations between the two countries.”
ICC continued, “As of the beginning of 2015, Saeed was one of more than 90 Christians who were either currently in prison or awaiting trial for charges related to their faith, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. If the United States genuinely considers religious freedom an important tenant of our foreign policy, then President Obama should absolutely demand that Iran release an American citizen who has been imprisoned and sentenced to eight years in prison simply for his religious beliefs and take clear steps to promote religious freedom in all of its dealings with Iran.”
In related news, Helen Freedman, executive director of Americans for a Safe Israel, has denounced the Iranian deal and has invited anyone to a large rally in New York to protest the deal that the Obama administration helped craft. “I blame President Obama, I blame Secretary of State Kerry,” said Freedman. “As an American, I am ashamed and angry that these leaders… they’re not my leaders… should conduct such a traitorous activity as to make this deal.” Freedman stated that Jewish groups are now organizing a rally at Times Square in New York, to take place next Wednesday, July 22, and which Freedman said they hope to attract 20,000 people.