(Fox News) As her husband’s trial and possible death sentence looms, the wife of an American Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran for evangelizing clings to hope and prays for a miracle. Naghmeh Abedini has been told by attorneys for her husband, Saeed, to expect the worst at Monday’s trial, where the 32-year-old husband and father faces the capital charge of compromising national security. Supporters believe the charges are directly related to Abedini’s work nearly a decade ago starting a house church movement in Iran, and the judge he’ll face, Abbas Pir-Abassi, is infamous for sending defendants to the gallows. “There is a lot going through my mind. I can never clear my head. I only sleep two hours a night,” Naghmeh Abedini told Foxnews.com by phone from her family’s home near Boise. “Unfortunately, he has been set up for failure and a harsh sentence because of his beliefs. His attorney says that the court has gathered a large amount of evidence against him.”
Select stories of religious rights violations
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been freed -- yet again -- from an Iranian prison.
(FoxNews.com) Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian Christian pastor who had been re-arrested on Christmas Day after serving nearly three years in prison for renouncing Islam, was released today, according to individuals close to the pastor and his family. Nadarkhani, 35, had been held since Christmas Day at Lakan Prison in Rasht, the facility where he was imprisoned from 2010 to 2012 in a case that made international headlines. Although he initially faced possible execution, he had been freed in November, with just 45 days left on a downgraded sentence issued after Fox News and other media outlets drew attention to his plight.
(PressTV): At least two Egyptians have lost their lives and two others wounded in a bomb attack on an Egyptian Orthodox Church near the Western Libyan city of Misrata, officials say. “Two Egyptians were killed and two were wounded,” said an unnamed diplomat at the Egyptian Embassy in Libyan capital, Tripoli, on Sunday. Those wounded were rushed to a nearby hospital for medical treatment, he added. The attack took place on Saturday in Dafniya, a Mediterranean village situated some 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) west of Misrata, after two unknown assailants threw a homemade explosive at the church.
(Fox News) A 32-year-old Iranian who is a U.S. citizen and a Christian convert has been imprisoned without notice of any formal charges while visiting his family in Iran, according to his wife and attorneys in the U.S., who are now hoping that a media campaign will help set him free. The Rev. Saeed Abedini, who lives in the U.S. with his wife and two young children, was making one of his frequent visits to see his parents and the rest of his family in Iran, his country of origin and where he spent many years as a Christian leader and community organizer developing Iran’s underground home church communities for Christian converts.
CAIRO (VOA) — Tentative results from Saturday’s first round of voting in Egypt’s constitutional referendum are showing a narrow lead for supporters of the document. Opposition and civil society groups allege vote fraud, while the head of Egypt’s electoral commission denied those charges. Egyptian media and rival political groups are reporting that around 56.5 percent of voters approved the country’s controversial new constitution in the first round of polling Saturday. Initial results also indicate that about one-third of 26 million eligible voters cast their ballots.
Kazakhstan government 'did the right thing' in allowing wanted Uzbek pastor to leave.
(Forum 18 News Service) — Uzbek Protestant pastor Makset Djabbarbergenov was released from prison in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital Almaty yesterday (4 December) and taken to the airport to be reunited with his wife and four children. They boarded a flight for Germany in the early hours of today (5 December), arriving safely in Europe, his friends told Forum 18 News Service. Facilitating the release and asylum in Europe was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Uzbekistan has been seeking to extradite Djabbarbergenov on charges which carry a maximum 15 year prison term to punish him for leading an unregistered Protestant community. His friends in Almaty told Forum 18 “we need to thank the Kazakh government – they did the right thing”. Meanwhile, the Kazakh government – condemned by the United Nations Committee Against Torture for sending back to Uzbekistan 29 Muslim asylum seekers who alleged they would face torture – has insisted to the UN that they have checked that none was tortured in prison in Uzbekistan.
Analysts see expanded authority as precursor to state, mob massacre of Christians
(WND) Christian human-rights analysts warn the expanded powers seized by Egypt’s president means more anti-Christian persecution to come. In a set of legal maneuvers this week, Muslim Brotherhood-anointed President Mohamed Morsi moved to sidestep the courts and make his office immune to judicial oversight. With no constitution to restrain him, Morsi holds broad executive and legislative authority. Middle East analyst Theodore Shoebat’s concern is what Morsi’s power grab means for Egypt’s Christians. He references two regimes – one ancient, one modern – to illustrate what happens when leaders opposed to Christianity take control. “Before Nero inflicted a full persecution on the church, he at first seized full control of the Roman government,” Shoebat said.
(World Magazine) Behnam Irani, 41, is serving six years in a prison in Karaj, Iran, for so-called actions against the state. His alleged crimes include pastoring a group of converts and sharing his Christian faith with Muslims. The pastor is languishing. In mid-August, CSW reported that Irani was suffering from severe bleeding due to a stomach ulcer and a colon disorder. Sources told the group that prison authorities beat the pastor during the early days of his imprisonment, and that he now struggles to walk. By late September, the Minnesota-based Present Truth Ministries reported that officials had denied Irani adequate medical care (including potentially live-saving surgery), and that the pastor was vomiting blood. Without intervention, advocates fear the husband and father of two young children could die within a few months.
by Shafique Khokhar
A poor laborer and family man calls for the release of three relatives in jail for months for alleged involvement in a kidnapping. The story originated from the romantic extramarital elopement of one of his children, with a Muslim girl. Behind the complaints, the attempt to deprive Sharif Masih of his properties. NCJP in defense of the accused.
(Catholic News Agency) The protection of religious freedom worldwide is so essential to democracy and prosperity that it should be considered an issue of “national security” to the U.S. government, says a former diplomat. “Religious freedom is buried in the bureaucracy and so people understand this is not a priority for us,” Dr. Tom Farr, senior fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion Peace and World Affairs, said Nov. 14. Farr, who spoke as part of the Family Research Council’s “Cry of the Martyrs” webcast and served as State Department’s first Director of the Office of International Religious Freedom, said that the U.S. needs to implement policies and provide resources to support religious freedom throughout the world.