Iranian Prisoner's Faith Outlasts Persecution

Christian prisoner released in Iran.
Iran is known for limited religious tolerance by Islamic leaders who often boast they provide room for other faiths. (AP Images/Vahid Salemi)

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He and his fiancée decided it was best for him to leave Iran and go to Turkey as a refugee. For Forootan, this meant an illegal escape through the mountains, because authorities had confiscated his passport.

“I came out of Iran with 70 Afghanis,” Forootan said. “I went to the mountains and walked in the mountains for eight hours, and after eight hours I came to Turkey…That was really hard, because I really love Iran, and I’m really sad about this land. Maybe I can’t see my country again.”

When Forootan arrived in Turkey, he and his fiancée, also a convert to Christianity, got married. They found a house and were together for two months before she had to return to Norway, where she had been granted asylum.

In southeast Turkey for three months, Forootan said the only thing more difficult than leaving his parents in Iran was not knowing what his future held. He said he hopes he can join his wife in Norway one day and finally start a Christian family of his own in freedom. For now, as he seeks refugee status in Turkey, he said he feels stateless.

“I miss Iran,” Forootan said. “I read in the Bible once about how the Jewish people were banished in Babylon; it says there that when my child is born in the banished land, then I will feel this is my land. When my child is born in Norway, I can say that is my land.”

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