Fox News commentator Todd Starnes claimed today in a Fox Nation blog post entitled “Why Won’t Obama Call for Iran to Release American Pastor?” that the Obama administration “has not done anything to help free” Rev. Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen who is being held in a notorious Iranian prison:
The wife of an American pastor held captive in an Iranian prison for nearly a year said the Obama Administration has not done anything to help free her husband – and the law firm representing the family believes it’s because the pastor is a Christian who converted from Islam.
However, this contrasts with what Fox News reported in January of this year:
Although the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said in a statement Sunday the administration is "deeply disappointed that Saeed Abedini has been sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran on a charge related to his religious beliefs.
"We condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom of religion and we call on the Iranian authorities to release Mr. Abedini."
Meehan added that the State Department remains in close contact with Abedini.
The State Department also called for Abedini's release.
"Mr. Abedini's attorney had only one day (January 21) to present his defense, so we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of Mr. Abedini's trial," spokesman Darby Holladay said in a statement.
State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said in a January press conference that Iran should “release” the pastor and condemned “Iran’s continued violation of the universal rights of freedom of religion.”
We remain very concerned about U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini, who is detained in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs. Mr. Abedini’s attorney had only one day to present his defense. And we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and the transparency of his trial. We condemn Iran’s continued violation of the universal rights of freedom of religion, and we call on the Iranian authorities to respect Mr. Abedini’s human rights and to release him. We are in close contact with his family as well and we’re actively engaged in the case.
Nuland reiterated the call for his release just last week:
[W]e remain concerned about Mr. Abedini. We raise this at regular intervals. We also remain deeply concerned that the Iranians have not yet granted access to him by our Swiss protecting power. We continue to believe he should be released immediately.
Brian Thorn of Media Matters points out that the American Center for Law and Justice’s Jordan Sekulow praised the White House and the State Deparmtnet for their “strong statements” to “secure the freedom of Pastor Saeed.” “Thanks to the State Department and White House for their statements today and involvement to secure Pastor Saeed’s freedom,” Sekulow said.
Well, I can tell you a couple of things. One, that we remain concerned about Saeed Abedini, who is, as you mentioned, detained in Iran on a charge related to his religious beliefs. The State Department is in close contact with his family and is actively engaged on this case. As you know, Mr. Abedini's attorney had only one day to present his defense. And earlier this week, Mr. Abedini was not allowed to attend his own trial, so we remain deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of that trial. We condemn Iran's continued violation of the universal right of freedom or religion, and we call on the Iranian authorities to release Mr. Abedini.
Sean Hannity last night was clearly upset that Rep. Keith Ellison exposed him for what he is — a partisan hack — and he is now launching attacks on the congressman by recycling statements Ellison made in the 1990s about the Nation of Islam, a group that the congressman later vociferously denounced. He even wondered if “we have somebody then in Congress that is the equivalent of one side of what the Klan is?”
Hannity has attacked Ellison over his faith in the past, arguing that Ellison’s use of Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran during his symbolic swearing-in ceremony “will embolden Islamic extremists” and is no different from a congressman using “Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which is the Nazi bible.”
While the use of inflammatory language and false claims is nothing new for Sean Hannity, we decided to use the segment as an opportunity to highlight the five Islamophobic smears regularly found on Fox News.
1. Obama is a Secret Muslim:
Fox News host Eric Bolling claimed that Obama “answers to the Quran first and to the Constitution second” and Hannity himself alleged that Obama “went to a Muslim school.” Regular contributors like Charles Krauthammer and Donald Trump have also floated the claim that Obama was raised as a Muslim and back in 2007, Fox News ran with the discredited story that Obama was a student an Islamic “madrassa” in Indonesia.
2. Park 51 Will be used for Terrorism:
Dick Morris, who just recently was booted from the network following his hilariously bad election predictions, said that the Park 51 Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero is planning to “train the same kind of terrorists” that attacked the U.S. on 9/11, warning the building will be a “command center for terrorism.” Bolling alleged that Park 51 is being built to represent “the people who flew planes” into the Twin Towers and Bill O’Reilly warned the project is housing “condos for Al Qaeda.”
3. Al Jazeera Conspiracies:
Fox News contributor Lisa Daftari warned that Al Jazeera’s acquisition of Current TV will activate terrorist “sleeper cells” in Detroit and regular Fox guest Michelle Malkin called the channel “a cheerleader for terror” and “a Trojan Horse for terror TV.”
4. Sharia law a-comin’:
Regular Fox News viewers may be under the impression that President Obama, public schools and NASA seek to impose Sharia law. The network also recently hired Herman Cain as a contributor, who insisted that Muslims should be prohibited from serving in high levels of government and that localities have a right to ban mosques because Muslims seek to introduce Sharia law, warnings Hannity readily endorsed.
5. ‘All Terrorists are Muslims’:
Brian Kilmeade of Fox & Friends claimed that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” and Bill O’Reilly has implied that all Muslims were responsible for 9/11. Fox News regularly hosts anti-Muslim guests such as Brigitte Gabriel, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. In fact, Fox News host Laura Ingraham and contributor John Bolton prematurely blamed the far-right terrorist attack in Norway on government offices and a left-wing party youth summit on Muslims.