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.”
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 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.”
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.”
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.