By Kate Tracy
Famed evangelist tries political logic; meanwhile, wife of imprisoned Iranian-American pastor meets Hassan Rouhani in NYC hotel.
In a personal letter to new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, Billy Graham addressed the growing tensions between the United States and Iran, arguing that Saeed Abedini’s release after a nearly year-long imprisonment would greatly improve American perceptions of the Muslim nation.
Graham recognized Iran’s recent release of 80 political prisoners as “very encouraging;” however, he said he feared “the current publicity surrounding the continued imprisonment of Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, may further harm the already fragile relationship that presently exists between our two nations.”
Iran recently released two Christians, Mitra Rahmati and Maryam Jalili, from Evin prison where Abedini is held, reported World Watch Monitor on the eve of Rouhani’s debut at the United Nations. However, 20 more Christians have recently been arrested. Among these prisoners are pastor Benham Irani, who must serve a remaining four years in prison unless he recants Christianity, according to an Iranian judge’s ruling.
Graham told Rouhani that the release of Abedini would not only improve Iran’s position in the eyes of American citizens—who are holding prayer vigils across the country September 26 to mark Abedini’s one-year …read more