I want to share with you an important victory for religious freedom involving one of our clients - a woman from Iran who left Islam and converted to Christianity.
As you may know, such a move is not only rare - but puts the person at great risk - especially if they return to Iran. Our client had been living in the United States when she converted to Christianity. And because of the dangers she faced in returning to her native homeland, she wanted to remain in this country.
One of our legal teams worked with her and her family and ultimately succeeded in getting the United States government to grant her asylum in this country.
Here's a report on our client and her situation from our legal team:
Our client testified that she was born to a very religious Muslim family in Iran. She grew up surrounded by a society that was exclusively Islamic. Though the rules of Islam did not make sense to her, she was forced to wear the Islamic head and body covering and publicly be Islamic in every aspect of her life. She states that, in Iran, she was never exposed to any religion other than Islam.
A few years ago, our client moved to this country with her husband and daughter, looking to escape the harsh economic and political climate of Iran and the extreme discrimination facing women. When her family moved to America, she encountered an entirely new language and culture. As challenging as this change was, she appreciated living in a country where she no longer had to live under oppressive Islamic traditions and was not mistreated simply because she is a woman.
Shortly after coming to America, our client met a Christian who invited her to church. Before attending church, our client was constantly sad, hopeless, and nervous. She said that these feelings faded away the more she studied the Bible and learned about the sacrifice Jesus made for her. She began to believe the words of the Bible and expressed her need for the salvation provided by Jesus. After our client told her pastor she had received Jesus, he encouraged her to get baptized.
At this point, our client became afraid of the problems her conversion and public baptism could cause for her family if they ever returned to Iran. Aware of the risks, she could not ignore her personal convictions, so she declared her Christian faith before her church as she was baptized. Her husband, who remains a Muslim, supports her decision to attend church and recognizes the positive change Christianity has had in her life.
At the interview hearing before the asylum officer, our client testified that the Iranian Government often questions those who have lived in the United States upon their return to Iran.
Part of this questioning included a requirement to affirm loyalty to the Iranian government and Islam. She said she would not be able to demonstrate such loyalty without lying to the authorities about her Christian faith, an action she is unwilling to do. Muslim converts to Christianity are often arrested, jailed, tortured, and sometimes killed because Iranian law forbids apostasy.
Our client stated that, at the very least, her daughter would likely be taken from her to be raised by a Muslim family. Though her daughter has already expressed a desire to eventually be baptized in a Christian church, she would be forced to live as a Muslim if her family returned to Iran.
Now that she has been granted asylum in United States, our client and her family no longer have to worry about this persecution.