After watching a banned video of Muslims stoning a woman to death, an Iranian woman had a strange dream. A man named Isa appeared to her.
That woman was Aideen Strandsson. The man in the dream was Isa–the Farsi (Iranian) name for Jesus. She accepted Christ as her personal savior and, knowing she also could be stoned to death, immigrated legally to Sweden from Iran in 2014 on a work visa. She adopted a Swedish last name and then did the unthinkable for a former Muslim– she requested a public baptism. It would mean a public death sentence if she were ever again to set foot in Iran.
Now, as Sweden as has welcomed over 167,000 refugees from the Middle East since 2016, they want to send this Christian woman back to Iran. She is a woman without a country with no legal passport, no citizenship and no way to get a job. Living every day by the generosity of Swedish Christians who donate food clothing and shelter, she lives with the knowledge she could be deported to her native Iran at any moment to face almost certain death.
Her Dream to Live Freely as a Christian
“I wanted to be baptized in public because I want to say I am free,” Strandsson said, “I am Christian and I wanted everyone to know about that.”
Which means the Islamic government of Iran knows. And because she starred in films and a TV series in Iran, it makes her an even bigger target if she is sent back.
Sweden Remains Defiant Against Global Anger
The world was outraged when the Swedish government decided to send Strandsson back to Iran where she could face prison, rape and even death. But a worldwide outcry over her situation has apparently not changed anything.
After Christian media brought the former Iranian actress’s story to the world stage, the government of Hungary offered her asylum, and many people from around the world contacted the Swedish government asking it to reconsider.
“It was really like a miracle for me,” Strandsson said, “When so many people in America called the Sweden embassy. Many people sent comments to me and said ‘you are welcome to our country.'”
But Sweden’s migration board says none of that matters. Aideen’s case has been turned over to border police for deportation.
Now Strandsson waits in a kind of legal limbo.
‘Stuck’ Between Citizenship and Deportation
“Aideen’s situation is not at all uncommon in Sweden,” says Swedish Attorney Gabriel Donner. “There are a fair amount of people who get stuck in between. So you have these curious cases where nothing is really dealt with and you cannot get ahead.”
Swedish attorney Gabriel Donner represented 160 Christian asylum seekers last year alone.
And he says by remaining in Sweden, Strandsson is running the risk of deportation.
What’s Next: Possible Prison and Deportation to Iran
Donner says it’s not clear if or when that might happen. “When it comes to the border police, Sweden’s backlog is growing and growing and growing. Right now it’s about two years and growing. This is contrary to European union law but no one cares.”
Aideen would first be sent to prison in Sweden while authorities made arrangements to fly her to Iran, according to Donner who said, “This is real prison conditions. They’re not allowed to speak on the telephone. They’re not allowed to be on a computer, not allowed to get in touch with anybody, they wear prison clothes. If they have to be transferred anywhere, they’re transferred in chains.”
Swedish authorities would then contact the Islamic Republic of Iran and tell them Aideen is coming and when to expect her, even though Sweden’s migration board says, on its own webpage, that it will never deport asylum seekers to nations where they face danger, and doing so is a violation of the Geneva convention on refugees.
Sweden’s migration board says it cannot comment on her case.
Unable to Work: Swedish Government Tries to ‘Starve’ Her
Aideen spends her days helping at church or training in Tae Kwon Do. She has earned a black belt, but the migration board took her certificate because she is not a legal resident.
She landed a job with the technology giant Ericsson as a computer programmer, but the Swedish government wouldn’t allow that either. Sweden ignored Ericsson’s plea to let her work for them.
Donner says “the idea is to starve you so you tell them to send you out.”
But she’s staying in Sweden because her family is here and because she says Jesus told her to not to be afraid.
Strandsson and other Christian asylum seekers in Sweden have faced deportation at the same time that the Swedish government has given 150 protected identities to former ISIS fighters who have returned to Sweden, so that they can find jobs.
There will be no such help for Aideen.
“There have been fast lanes for Syrians and Somalians, but not for Iranians and definitely not for Christians,” Donner says. “We have one judge here in Stockholm who has never said yes to any Christian.”
Sudden Arrest and Departure
If Strandsson is about to be deported, will she receive a warning letter first? “She doesn’t necessarily get anything,” Donner says. “They can just turn up and can turn up any time.”
Strandsson admits, “I don’t know what will happen to me in the future, but I should say thank you for everything. I can never find the words to say thank you to to all the people who tried to help me.”