Sweden is violating a United Nations human-rights treaty in its attempt to deport a prominent Iranian actress who revealed her conversion from Islam to Christianity after arriving in the European nation, according to a charity that defends persecuted Christians worldwide.
Aideen Strandsson would face punishment and prison, possibly even rape and death, if returned to the mullah-led Islamic nation, argues the U.K.-based Barnabas Fund.
The group cites the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, which states “a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom.”
In Strandsson’s case, the international Christian ministry said, she undoubtedly would face prison – at a minimum – for her conversion to Christianity.
“In fact, Iranian prisons are a particularly dangerous environment for any woman,” the organization said.
“Rape has been widely used against female prisoners since the 1979 Islamic revolution on the pretext that women offenders must not be allowed to remain virgins, as this could result in them being admitted to paradise. Added to this, as both an apostate from Islam and a nationally known actress who has appeared in films and on TV, Miss Strandsson is likely to be viewed as a significant embarrassment to the Iranian government. As such, her life will be in serious danger,” the Barnabas Fund said.
The organization said the actress had a conversion experience after watching a video in Iran of a woman being stoned to death.
“I decided at that moment I don’t want to be a Muslim anymore,” she said.
Strandsson said that shortly after that, she had a dramatic spiritual encounter.
“I had a dream about Jesus. He was sitting near me and he took my hand,” she said.
But she, like many others in Iran, kept her faith quiet, allowing word of it to come out only after she safely was in Sweden.
At that point, in 2014, she asked for a public baptism.
“I want to have a baptism in public because I want to say I am not afraid anymore I am free, I am Christian. I want everyone to know about that,” she explained, according to Barnabas.
Now, however, Swedish officials “have told Aideen that becoming a Christian was ‘her decision’ and now it’s ‘her problem’ and not theirs.”
“At her asylum hearing, a Swedish migration official even told her it would not be as bad for her in Iran as she is expecting because it would only be six months in prison,” Barnabas said.
The U.N. convention disallows sending a refugee back to a nation where “they face serious threats to their life or freedom.”
The planned deportation is part of Sweden’s attempt to tamp down the backlash to its admission of huge numbers of migrants from Muslim nations.
“In a worrying new trend, which may affect Christians in other European countries which have recently allowed in large numbers of migrants, decisions on asylum appear to be influenced not just by human rights but also by government targets, with little or no recognition of the specific persecution faced by Christian minorities in countries such as Iran,” Barnabas Fund said.
A lawyer working on her case, Gabriel Donner, told Barnabas Fund the government officials “do not care” about injuries they may create.
“They have promised the public in Sweden that they will deport more people than before and so they have to fill the quota.”
Donner said many Swedish officials are so ignorant of religion and Christianity they assume it’s simply a lifestyle choice.
“A convert says, ‘I converted because of the love I received from Jesus Christ,’ and they almost mockingly ask the convert, ‘What do you mean by love?’ They don’t understand the message in the Bible. It’s just completely alien to them,” he said.
Donner estimated there are 8,000 asylum-seekers now hiding in Sweden to avoid deportation.