A Christian refugee from Iran seeking asylum in Sweden has not only been denied her request, but forced out of her job, while former fighters with the Islamic State (ISIS) have been granted that asylum. Christian asylum seekers in Sweden reported 512 religiously motivated acts of violence against them, mostly at the hands of Muslim migrants.
Aideen Strandsson, who starred in film and television in Iran, became a Christian after seeing a video of Muslims stoning a woman to death and after having a dream about Jesus. She came to Sweden in 2014 on a work visa and received a public baptism, and has received threats from Muslims due to her conversion.
Last November, the Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson offered her a job as a computer programmer, but she was not allowed to take the job because she remains an illegal resident in the eyes of Sweden’s government.
“They decided i should go home and live without job,” Strandsson wrote on Facebook. “This injustice [sic] but I never give up because I have jesus in my heart and I have prayers of the people of the world in my life. They can take my job, my money, my home. But not my faith.”
They decided i should go home and live without job. This injustice but I never give up because I have jesus in my heart…
Strandsson has trained in taekwondo, earning a black belt, but the migration board took her certificate because she is not a legal resident.
“The idea is to starve you so you tell them to send you out,” Swedish attorney Gabriel Donner, who represented 160 Christian asylum seekers last year alone, told CBN News’s Dale Hurd. Donner reported that Strandsson and other Christian asylum seekers in Sweden have faced deportation while the Swedish government has given 150 protected identities to former ISIS fighters who returned to Sweden to find jobs.
“There have been fast lanes for Syrians and Somalians, but not for Iranians and definitely not for Christians,” Donner told CBN News. “We have one judge here in Stockholm who has never said yes to any Christian.”
By staying in Sweden with her family, Strandsson risks deportation. Donner said it remains unclear if or when that would happen. “When it comes to the border police, Sweden’s backlog is growing and growing and growing,” he told CBN News. “Right now it’s about two years and growing. This is contrary to European Union law but no one cares.”
The lawyer said that if authorities got to Strandsson’s case, they would first send her to prison while arranging her flight to Iran. “This is real prison conditions. They’re not allowed to speak on the telephone. They’re not allowed to be on a computer, not allowed to get in touch with anybody, they wear prison clothes,” Donner said, suggesting if the Christian asylum seeker was apprehended, no one would learn about it.
Worse, “if they have to be transferred anywhere, they’re transferred in chains,” the lawyer added.
After apprehending Strandsson, the authorities would contact the Islamic Republic of Iran and tell them when to expect her, Donner said. This practice runs against the official practices of Sweden’s own migration board, which promises on its webpage that it will never deport asylum seekers to nations where they face danger. Such a deportation would also be a violation of the Geneva Convention on refugees.
Sweden’s migration board refused to comment on the case.
Besides the threats Strandsson has already received in Sweden, she would face worse in Iran. After arriving in Sweden, she requested a public baptism. “I wanted to be baptized in public because I want to say I am free, I am a Christian and I wanted everyone to know about that,” she told CBN News.
This public baptism virtually guarantees that the Islamic government of Iran knows that she has converted to Christianity. Since she starred in films and in a television series in Iran, she would almost certainly become a major target if sent back.
A survey published by Open Doors Sweden last year found that 123 Christian asylum-seekers had faced religiously motivated persecution in at least 512 separate incidents. Christian refugees suffered 65 violent assaults, 55 death threats, 7 cases of sexual assault, along with instances of social exclusion, insults, contempt, and threats. More than half, 53 percent, said they had been violently attacked at least once. Almost half, 45 percent, reported receiving at least one death threat.
More than three-quarters of those who faced such persecution were converts to Christianity, and almost all of the perpetrators were Muslim. Other refugees or immigrants carried out more than four-in-five (81 percent) of the attacks, 415 out of 512.
If Christian asylum seekers face danger in Sweden, how much more would converts who left Iran — especially former actresses like Strandsson — suffer if deported to their native land?