Imprisoned Christian pastor in Iran to get congressional hearing

(Photo: American Center for Law and Justice)Pastor Saeed Abedini is seen in an undated file photo.

The case of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is serving an eight-year jail sentence in Iran for his work in Christian house churches, will be the focus of a congressional on Friday.

Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of the imprisoned Iranian-American pastor, will be in Washington to testify at the hearing and press US lawmakers to fight for his freedom.

She will be accompanied by Christian lawyers Jay and Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, which has been advocating on Saeed's behalf.

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress will hold a hearing 10 a.m. on Friday on "The Worsening Plight of Religious Minorities in Iran," which will focus on Pastor Saeed's case.

ACLJ plans to planning to garner enough attention from lawmakers to force the Obama Administration to get involved and demand the release of Saeed. The group is urging Americans to tell their senators to attend the hearing on Friday.

At the time of publication, ACLJ gathered over 498,000 petition signatures that pressed the United Nations, European Union, and Council of Europe to mobilize their resources to require Iran to honor its treaties and its constitution.

The petition claims that Iran's imprisonment of Saeed for his Christian faith violates Iran's own constitution and violates multiple international human rights treaties that Iran has voluntarily and willingly signed.

Earlier this week, the European Union (EU) responded to the ACLJ petition and demanded Iran to release American Pastor Saeed at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The EU Stated: "We deplore the systematic harassment of members of religious minorities. We call on the Iranian authorities to refrain from such practices and to ensure respect for freedom of religion and belief.

"We call for the immediate release of prisoners of conscience, including Pastors Behnam Irani, Farshid Fathi and Saeed Abadini and the leaders of the Baha'i community."

Abedini was held months in prison without formal charges. The pastor, who had led a network of house churches in Iran when he resided in the country, was sentenced Jan. 27 to eight years in prison on charges of evangelizing Muslims and threatening national security.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent federal body that monitors religious freedom abroad and makes recommendations to the president, has already urged the Iranian government to release the pastor. Several U.S. lawmakers have also called for his release.

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