On September 11th, 2001, Al-Qaeda terrorists killed 3000 people because they weren’t Muslim. I suppose to pacify terrorists groups worldwide and make the attacks stop, we all could have converted to Islam and enacted Sharia law. Instead, in the last thirteen years 6,700 American men and women have died fighting for the freedom to be the United States and have freedom of religion. And many hundreds of thousands more have been wounded, been affected by PTSD, missed their sons and daughters’ childhoods, and lost marriages to fight overseas.
It’s an old, old battle for Americans. Our first settlers traveled thousands of miles across the sea and died like flies in the New England winter just for the freedom to worship God the way they chose. When the Constitution’s Bill of Rights was drafted declaring “freedom of religion” for all, the fledging United States became a haven for Huguenots, Catholics, and Anabaptists. In the 20th century, Jews fled to America to escape the persecution of Hitler’s Nazis. Even today, we have refugee laws that allow an individual who flees their land because of religious persecution to find safe haven in America.
Then there’s Saeed Abedini. He’s a 32-year-old American citizen. He has a wife and two kids, a boy and a girl, the quintessential American family. In the Fall of 2012, he traveled to Iran to visit relatives. He was arrested at the airport and sentenced to eight years imprisonment in the most brutal prison in Iran.
Saeed’s crime? Ever since he was 20-years-old, he has been telling Iranians about Jesus. Saeed loves Jesus and wants to share that love with others. He even built an orphanage in Iran for children of all religions. Sound like the actions of a warmongering criminal to you?
Now two years later, Saeed still rots in prison. He’s been beaten. He’s been hospitalized for months because of the brutalities of the beatings. He’s been beaten on his way back from the hospital. He’s been threatened with longer imprisonment because he continues to tell his fellow prisons about Jesus. And in a prison like Rajai Shahr, there is always the possibly of death from disease or mistreatment.
When Bowe Bergdahl was released after the longest imprisonment of this war, many were outraged at the Guantanamo terrorists set free to purchase Bowe’s freedom. But President Obama said that not leaving a man behind is a core American value. So why are we leaving American citizen Saeed Abedini behind?
Almost 7000 of America’s men and women, the United State’s finest, died in just the last decade for religious freedom. American mothers and fathers still mourn their sons and daughters, husbands and wives. Yet we are letting an American citizen linger in wretched conditions in a brutal jail for practicing just that religious freedom that our soldiers died for.
Every day we let Saeed Abedini waste away in that jail cell, we dishonor our service members and their families’ sacrifice.