An Iranian Anglican minister and his family, who had been threatened with deportation from Turkey, have now been safely resettled in the United States.
Pastor Hekmat Salimi, his wife Mahindokht and their daughter Sama arrived in Atlanta late on Saturday night, after eight months of fearing they may be deported back to Iran.
The pastor and his family fled Iran in 2016 after years of harassment by intelligence agents and multiple arrests.
But having lived in Turkey for six years as asylum-seekers, without being recognised as refugees, in February this year they were suddenly told they must leave the country within seven days or face forcible deportation back to Iran.
In the days that followed, another Iranian Anglican minister who now lives in the UK, Rev Mohammad Eghtedarian, set up a petition calling on the Turkish authorities to stop the deportation and on the “UNHCR and international monitoring bodies to ensure Hekmat and his family are protected”.
Meanwhile, the family laid low, and prayed.
Now, finally, more than eight months later, Pastor Hekmat and his family are safe, having been welcomed into the United States by Anglican Archbishop Foley Beach.
Article18’s advocacy director, Mansour Borji, gave this reaction:
“We welcome the news of Pastor Hekmat and his family’s safe arrival in the US. They have suffered greatly both in Iran as persecuted Christians and also in Turkey as refugees. No-one should be subjected to so much pressure only for peacefully practising their faith.
“We also remain concerned for the fate of many more persecuted Iranian Christians in Turkey and elsewhere in the world, who are stranded with no safe place to call home.”