Naghmeh Abedini Panahi

Born in Tehran in 1977, Naghmeh Abedini Panahi immigrated to the United States at the age of nine and soon converted from Islam to Christianity. In late 2001, after graduating from college, she returned to Iran to work as a businesswoman and missionary. There, she witnessed—and experienced—the oppression and violence women are subjected to every day in the Middle East. It was there that she also met her future husband, Saeed Abedini, with whom she led one of the largest house church movements in Iran. In 2005, due to persecution, she and Saeed moved to the United States, where their two children were born. When Saeed visited Iran in 2012 to work with the underground church, he was arrested. Naghmeh unceasingly advocated for Saeed’s release, publicly appealing to President Barak Obama, Donald Trump, the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, and nearly every major news outlet over the three and a half years that Saeed was in prison. Yet underneath the surface of her leadership in the Iranian house church, her family life in America, and the spotlight of her advocacy, Naghmeh had been an abused wife, and Saeed’s imprisonment had further intensified his abuse and paranoia. It took the crisis and aftermath of Saeed’s arrest for Naghmeh to finally recognize what had been happening to her and begin to find healing. Naghmeh’s personal experience with domestic violence and the misuse of religion to reinforce abuse has given her a passion to advocate for women who are vulnerable to abuse and oppression because of religion. She is the cofounder and executive director of Tahir Alnisa (“Setting Women Free”) Foundation, which serves women and children around the world impacted by domestic abuse and religious-motivated violence. Naghmeh’s autobiography, I Didn’t Survive: Emerging Whole After Deception, Persecution, and Hidden Abuse (Whitaker House), will be released in September 2023.

Books by Naghmeh Abedini Panahi

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