Obama to meet with Naghmeh Abedini in Idaho
"The kids and I will be meeting with President Obama tomorrow! Thank you all for your prayers and support," Naghmeh Abedini tweeted at 6:19 p.m. Jan. 20. "Praise God! It is a miracle!!!"
She has championed the cause of religious liberty since her husband, a U.S. citizen of Iranian heritage, was sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran for practicing his Christian faith there.
"I have tried over the last two years to meet with the president or even get a phone call from him without success," Naghmeh said in a statement released by the American Center for Law and Justice. "It is truly an answer to prayer that he is coming to Boise and it is a miracle that he is meeting with us. I see God's Hand in arranging this crucial meeting."
The ACLJ announced confirmation of the meeting a couple of hours before Obama's State of the Union address.
"After an overwhelming response from Americans asking that President Obama meet with American Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, she just received confirmation from the White House a short time ago indicating that President Obama will meet personally with her and her children in Boise Idaho -- Pastor Saeed's family's hometown -- tomorrow during his visit," ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow
said in a press release. "This is exactly what Naghmeh has requested. We're pleased that President Obama will take the time to meet with the Abedinis and see the pain and suffering they are experiencing because of the imprisonment of Pastor Saeed in Iran."
Nearly 105,000 individuals have signed a petition on the ACLJ's website asking Obama to hold the meeting during his Boise trip.
"As you know, Pastor Saeed is an American citizen, imprisoned in Iran merely because of his Christian faith," reads an excerpt from the petition addressed to Obama. "You have publicly called for his release, and your State Department has engaged Iranian diplomats requesting that he be freed. For those actions, we are deeply grateful. Yet he remains in prison, and there are public reports that the
United States may reach a nuclear deal with Iran without securing the release of Americans held captive in that country."
Details of the meeting have not been released. Obama is in Boise to visit the New Product Development Lab in Boise State University's Micron Engineering Center, before delivering remarks at Boise State University. The president will be in Boise from 3:20 p.m. – 6:15 p.m., according to the president's schedule posted at whitehouse.gov.
Saeed Abedini was sentenced Jan. 27, 2013, on charges he threatened national security by planting house churches in Iran years earlier. He had been under house arrest since July, 2012, and imprisoned since Sept. 26, 2012. He has faced death threats and beatings in prison and has received inadequate medical care, according to news reports.
Unable to see Naghmeh and their two children, he continues to proclaim his faith in correspondence with her and in conversations with other prisoners. In September, 2014, he wrote to 8-year-old daughter Rebekkah Grace on her birthday:
"Jesus allows me to be kept here for His glory. I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big WHY in your mind you are asking: WHY Jesus isn't answering your prayers and the prayers of all of the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family.
"The answer to the WHY is WHO. WHO is [in] control? LORD JESUS CHRIST is in control," he wrote.