Two siblings from Iran who claim to have proof that they are halakhically Jewish and who have sought asylum, first in Sweden and then in Germany, are anxiously awaiting their threatened deportation to Iran, where they say they will face execution.
Pourya, 31, and Tala Heydariaref, 34, left Iran in October 2019 and arrived in Sweden on tourist visas. Their initial goal was to move to Israel from Sweden. That plan, however, failed when they did not receive a positive response from the Jewish Agency of Israel for reasons unknown to this writer. They thus had to apply for political asylum in Sweden on grounds that they have no freedom of religion in Iran.
- “We are Jewish from our mother’s side and we believe in Judaism. We couldn’t follow our beloved religion in Iran because our father was Muslim and according to Sharia of Islam that Iran practices, anyone who has a Muslim father has to follow Islam. And if not, they will get executed. So we decided to leave Iran to live as free individuals as Jews.”
Pourya said that he has letters from rabbis in Iran that confirm him and his sister as Jewish:
- “We also have letters by rabbis in Sweden and the US that confirm us as Jewish from our mother’s side. My grandmother from my mother’s side was a Jewish refugee from Russia and I have her passport picture as well. I also have a letter from the Tehran Central Jewish Committee stating that our Jewish great grandmother, Hava Mina Zadeh, who died in 1985, is buried at Tehran’s Jewish cemetery.”
However, the Swedish immigration office in Stockholm tried to force them to sign a letter to deport them to Iran, said Pourya. “We refused and they gave us a letter urging us to leave Sweden in three weeks.”
Then the two siblings arrived in Germany and applied for asylum there.
- “Now Germany wants to send us back to Sweden. They told us that they would deport us to Sweden on June 20. But they have not even assessed our asylum case. They just gave a letter to our lawyer that said that we had to go back to Sweden although we had told them that our life would be in danger in Sweden as well. We know Sweden will deport us to Iran.”
The two siblings have been living in a refugee camp in Hamburg since April 5. “They gave us one room but the living conditions here are incredibly difficult and inhumane and we have been told we will be deported to Sweden.
“Germany says that because I and my sister applied for asylum in Sweden, it is Sweden that is responsible for us. We are sure Sweden will deport us to Iran because they rejected our cases, and they claim that we can live safely in Iran like other Jews. But they do not seem to understand that someone with a Muslim father can’t follow other religions in Iran and if they do so, they get executed according to sharia. The rabbi of Stockholm also gave Swedish authorities a letter supporting us and explaining that we won’t have freedom of religion in Iran. But Sweden said that we would not be able to apply for asylum for the next four years.
“So Germany and Sweden have not even taken our cases seriously although we clearly documented that our lives will be in danger in Iran due to Sharia law. We believe that it is discriminatory of these two governments to deny us our basic rights although they know we won’t be able to survive as Jews in Iran. Is it not antisemitic to treat our cases with such indifference and denial and not even care about the fact that Sharia law will execute us if we go to Iran and attempt to live as Jews?”
The two siblings said they would like to live in any country but Iran where they will be able to practice their faith safely.
Pourya said: “I want to ask Israeli people and Jews all across Europe to help us to stay in safety so we can have our freedom of religion and practice Judaism which is our most basic human right.”
Perhaps Israel’s Interior Ministry can review the case and provide a definitive answer.
Source: Arutz Sheva
Header: A young Jewish Iranian woman prays at a synagogue in Tehran. Image by Getty Images.