Has Trump administration betrayed Iran’s persecuted Christian minorities?

Iranian-woman (1)
Protests in Iran engulfed more than 80 cities earlier this year, far surpassing the scope of the last protest movement in 2009.

By LEO HOHMANN

The rejection of asylum for about 100 Iranian Christian refugees by the Trump administration is raising eyebrows among advocates for the persecuted Church in Islamic nations.

One advocacy group, Barnabas Aid, has gone so far as to call the rejected asylum applications “an insult to America’s Christian and humanitarian heritage and a betrayal by the Trump administration.”

The Christian refugees, many of whom can recount horrific stories of persecution they have experienced at the hands of Iranian mullahs, now have less than a week to leave Austria, where they have been stranded for more than a year, unwanted by the Europeans and other formerly Christian countries.

They had expected to be given entry to the US under the so-called Lautenberg program, named after former New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, but now face potential deportation back to Iran.

The decision by the Trump administration to reject the applicants “is a betrayal of Iranian Christian refugees,” the UK-based Barnabas Aid stated in an alert posted on its website.

Before he even announced his candidacy, Trump promised to be a voice and a vehicle to help Christians around the world.

“The Christians are being treated horribly because we have nobody to represent the Christians,” Trump told CBN’s David Brody. “Believe me, if I run and I win, I will be the greatest representative of the Christians they’ve had in a long time.”

After he took office in January 2017, Trump sat down for another interview with Brody and told him persecuted Christians would be given priority over other refugees.

A bipartisan group of congressional lawmaker has written a letter to Vice President Mike Pence “on behalf of a small group of suffering Middle Eastern religious minorities seeking refuge from Iran’s repressive regime.”

Their letter states:

“This sudden change in policy – from almost a hundred percent acceptance rate [under the Lautenberg programme] to nearly complete rejection – makes no sense, even on security grounds. Some applicants are reported to be elderly and/or disabled, making it hard to imagine they represent a security threat … there is no evidence that others admitted through this program have ever been a threat to the U.S. … The law is clear: these applicants should be presumed eligible for refugee status.”

The decision has also been denounced by representatives of humanitarian organisations, who have accused the US Government of “hypocrisy” for criticising the Iranian regime and encouraging protests in the country, but refusing “to provide safety to those who flee and are not safe from the Iranian government.”

The Lautenberg program under which the refugees were to have been given asylum in the US was established in 1990 by Sen. Lautenberg, who championed legislation creating a program to resettle persecuted religious minorities, initially from the former Soviet Union. In 2003, Congress voted to expand the Lautenberg Amendment to establish a legal presumption of eligibility for refugee status for Iran’s religious minorities.

Since then, about 30,000 Iranians have been resettled in the US. These include members of Jewish, Mandaean, Zoroastrian and Bahai religious minorities, as well as Christians.

All of the 100 Iranian refugees in Austria were financially supported by a sponsor in the US and had been granted prospective refugee transit visas by the Austrian embassy, according to Barnabas Aid. They had already been interviewed by the Department for Homeland Security and, in one case, family members had been informed their relative would receive a US visa in early 2017. But while President Trump has previously stated that Christian refugees who have faced persecution would get priority, under his administration, the Lautenberg program has effectively been shut down.

Shahram Hadian, an American citizen and Christian pastor who grew up in Iran and came to the United States through Canada just before the fall of the Shah in 1979, said he is “perplexed” by the plight of the 100 Iranian Christians being denied refuge in the U.S.

Most of the 100 Christians facing return to Iran are of Armenian and Assyrian descent.

“I have read about it before and talked about it recently on my radio program. I am wondering if the decision to shut this program down and reject these is being done by the Obama holdovers at the State Department,” Hadian told LeoHohmann.com.

 

“I believe this decision is not coming from Trump but all the Obama holdovers in the State Department , Homeland Security and [National Security Adviser] H.R. McMaster, who were doing very little to help persecuted Christians coming into America before Trump took office,” Hadian said.

 

“Now they want to make Trump look bad, look mean, and make him out to be against Christians. We know that Trump has been very active in his actions to protect Christians and Christian liberty. If Trump knows about it and still rejected them, there has got to be some underlying reason. I would be surprised if he is the one who has given the directive to reject them.”

 

There is also some speculation that because Iran was one of the 11 countries on Trump’s travel ban, he is hesitant to make an exception for Christian refugees out of fear that he will lose standing in the impending court battles for singling out Muslims in the ban.

 

Regardless of who is behind the blocking of Christian refugees from Iran, “we must help persecuted Christians from these Islamic countries,” Hadian said.

 

“We know how bad things are in Iran for Christians and the daily and deadly persecution that they are under,” he said.

 

“The persecution is coming from a mandate from the false God of Islam to ‘fight the people of the Book,’ until they testify that Allah is the true God and Muhammad his prophet, be subdued as dhimmis and pay the Jizya or be driven out or killed.”

Iranian-woman
This Iranian woman became a heroic symbol of the protest movement for defiantly removing her hijab and flying it on a stick. She was arrested by Iranian religious police.

In the UK, the British government has also been guilty of hypocrisy in its approach to Christian refugees, while claiming to uphold religious liberty, according to Barnabas Aid. “The British government has discriminated against Christian refugees from Syria. Western governments seem to be making political capital by condemning persecution of Christians, while deliberately rejecting those who are persecuted – be it Iranian Christians rejected by the US, Syrian Christians rejected by the UK, Eritrean Christians rejected by the Israeli government, or Christian converts rejected in Sweden and Austria.”

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Leo Hohmann is a veteran journalist and author of the 2017 book “Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad.” If you appreciate this type of original, fact-based and independent reporting, please consider a donation of any size to this website. We accept no advertising and are beholden to no one.


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4 thoughts on “Has Trump administration betrayed Iran’s persecuted Christian minorities?”

  1. You think this is bad ? Read Dale Hurd tweet about the swedish Christian woman deported back to Evian prison. When she finally was freed, she experienced so much unspeakable horror…… She jumped to her death from her apartment window….. I cried for hours after reading that Personal note. I believe very strongly in my heart whenever a Christian commits suicide that is NOT the unpardonable sin. So many Christian’s can be so cruel so legalistic they say suicide is… Read what Paul said was the unpardonable sin…. We should all know.. Dying without Christ . Paul talks about the Holy Spirit – unpardonable sin… Dying refusing to accept Christ..

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  2. Actually, they are NOT Christian, but those of the Mandaean sect.

    The Mandaean religion is a Gnostic religion (the only surviving one). They revere John the Baptist along with a number of Biblical figures (but not Jesus), but it doesn’t look like they are actually descended from the real-life disciples of John the Baptist (who wasn’t a gnostic).

    And which beliefs also includes a cosmic Father and Mother; The cosmos is created by Archetypal Man, who produces it in similitude to his own shape; Planets and stars influence fate and human beings, and are also places of detention after death. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandaeism#Beliefs

    Maybe the fringe nature of their religion is partly the cause of their status. The NYT said (and is likely upset) Refugee resettlement officials said that evangelical Christians, who make up more than 90 percent of the Lautenberg pool and hail mainly from Ukraine, continue to arrive as usual.

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      1. I just read the article from the NYT you referred to and you misread it. The article says: “In the group are ethnic Armenian and Assyrian Christians, Mandeans, and Zoroastrians, most of whom have relatives in the United States who sponsored them.”
        So there you have it. Some, very few in all likelihood, are Mandeans. The rest are Armenian and Assyrian Christians, and Zoroastrians. And for the record, all of these sects are entirely peaceful religious minorities being persecuted by an Islamic State. So your argument that somehow they are not worthy of refugee status because they are not the kind of Christians you approve of rings hollow. So we should send them back to Iran to face life in prison or death? Come on!!!

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