Naghmeh Abedini tells of abuse and betrayal behind #SaveSaeed — interview by Julie Roys
Naghmeh Abedini Panahi endured horrific abuse from her husband Saeed, who was a pastor. Like most Christian women who are abused by their husbands, it took Naghmeh many years to realise that she was an abused woman. The purity culture in churches, common misinterpretations of Proverbs 31 and other scriptures, her Iranian cultural background and her husband’s coercive control all worked to condition her to put up with and minimise her husband’s bad behaviour. For years, she blamed herself and tried harder to make the marriage work.
Naghmeh became famous for advocating for her husband’s release from an Iranian jail. Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) was one of the celebrity Christians who supported Naghmeh’s campaign. Franklin Graham is CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse.
When it came out that Naghmeh’s husband was abusing her, she was betrayed and abandoned by Franklin Graham and other well known leaders.
Journalist Julie Roys has interviewed Naghmeh. Naghmeh is telling her story in far more detail than she has told it before. Here is part one of what will be a two part series by Julie Roys.
Ex-Wife Tells of Abuse & Betrayal Behind #SaveSaeed. At the link you can listen to the podcast or read the transcript, whichever you prefer.
In this interview, Naghmeh gives a lot of detail about the ways Saeed abused her. She describes how Franklin Graham gave her significant support when she was advocating for Saeed’s release from jail. The support he gave helped Nagmeh’s campaign, but it also helped Franklin’s profile. Franklin Graham’s following on social media grew astronomically while he was promoting #SaveSaeed.
Naghmeh says that while Franklin Graham was supporting her campaign to get Saeed released from jail, Franklin gave her “honorariums” (gift$). He also provided a private jet to fly Naghmeh to speaking engagements. Naghmeh says the flights and honoraria were paid for by either Samaritan’s Purse or the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. When Naghmeh asked Franklin to stop giving her these freebies, he insisted on her accepting them. My questions: Was Franklin trying to make Naghmeh feel obligated to him? Was he buying her loyalty in advance so that if he ever mistreated her she would feel too indebted to him to speak out?
When it came out that Saeed had been abusing Naghmeh for their entire marriage, Franklin Graham did a 180 and betrayed Naghmeh.
I am glad that Naghmeh is now naming the celeb leaders who betrayed her. Clearly, she has not been swayed by Franklin Graham’s gifts.
Franklin Graham bullied and betrayed Naghmeh
In a three way conversation between Franklin Graham, Saeed and Naghmeh which took place in 2016, Franklin Graham mutualised and minimised the problem of Saeed’s abusiveness. Franklin butted in and interrupted Nagmeh when she was trying to say that Saeed’s abuse needed to be dealt with. Read Franklin’s words below, which I have copied and pasted from the transcript of part one, linked above.
Well, we’re going to pause on Naghmeh’s story there. But in part two of this podcast, you’ll hear what happened in those phone calls with Franklin Graham and Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ—or American Center for Law and Justice. After learning of Naghmeh’s horrific abuse, did they respond with support? Or, was the abuse a public relations nightmare they needed to erase?
Again, you’ll hear all about that in part two of this podcast.
You’ll also hear exclusive audio obtained by The Roys Report of a meeting in 2016 between Naghmeh, Franklin Graham, and Saeed. Here’s just a short clip from that meeting.
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: “It takes two people to make it work. If you want to make this work, you’re going to have to move a little bit. Okay? Somebody’s going to have to move a little bit.”
NAGHMEH PANAHI: “I’m sorry, but in abuse”
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: “Don’t tell me you’re sorry because it doesn’t matter to me, Naghmeh.”
NAGHMEH PANAHI: “I’m sorry Saeed, but the abuse has to be dealt with.”
Franklin Graham was bullying Naghmeh in this three way conversation.
- He was telling her not to say something.
- He was telling her he did not care about what she wanted to say.
- He deployed the false notion that “it takes two people to make it work”. Authority figures often say that to try to guilt the oppressed person into changing to appease the oppressor.
- Franklin Graham was enabling Saeed and betraying Naghmeh.
For readers who don’t know much about Naghmeh, here is the blurb from Julie Roy’s post Ex-Wife Tells of Abuse & Betrayal Behind #SaveSaeed.
Naghmeh Abedini Panahi made national news in 2012 when she publicly advocated for the release of her then husband, Saeed Abedini, who was imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith. Through Saeed’s imprisonment Naghmeh was not only able to bring worldwide attention to the plight of the persecuted Christians, but she was also able to proclaim the Gospel to millions of people worldwide by speaking to governments, human rights groups, and major news outlets. When it came to light in 2015 that Naghmeh had been abused throughout her marriage by her “hero” husband, the Christian community turned on her. Though Naghmeh was judged, abandoned, and rejected by the Christian community, she trusted in Jesus to be her defense and to fight her battles. Naghmeh’s story is a story of God’s amazing rescue and restoration.
Part 2 of Naghmeh Abedini Panahi’s story can be found here.
Billy Graham was corrupt — This post presents evidence that Billy Graham was a 33rd Degree Freemason. It gives documentary evidence that Billy Graham was present when Jim Shaw was initiated into the 33rd Degree of Freemasonry. At those ceremonies, only men who being initiated or have already attained the 33rd Degree are allowed to be present. Jim Shaw later became a Christian and renounced all his Masonic vows.
Why is it so hard to get justice for abuse in the church? — In my Twitter thread on Billy Graham and Franklin Graham. I encourage all Christians to read the evidence which I present in this thread. You do not need your own Twitter account to read it.