I fled Iran in 2010

Because problems arose when my mother converted from Islam to Christianity. For a while, my father also felt like he did not belong in Islam anymore. But he did not dare say that out loud, until my mother did. It turned out they felt the same way.

My mother’s name was on that list

Going to church was not easy for my mother. The Basij, the Islamic police, sees everything. My mother joined an underground church in our city, Isfahan, but the Basij found out about it. They also found a list of visitors’ names. My mother’s name was on that list. Around the same time, the Basij murdered an entire family on our street. The same thing could have happened to us.

We left everything behind and took off. My uncle helped us find a trafficker. We travelled to the border with Armenia by foot and by bus, and crossed it discretely, at night.

The trafficker gave us fake passports and flight tickets to Amsterdam. New fake passports would be waiting for us in a toilet at Schiphol Airport, which we could use to continue travelling to Canada. We went straight to the toilets at Schiphol and waited for hours, but no one showed up. We worried that the trafficker had deceived us. We had nowhere to go. We were terrified and hadn’t eaten in two days.

We discretely crossed the border at night

Out of desperation, my mother reported us to the gendarmerie, the military police. With the help of an interpreter, she told them our entire story and asked if they could send us back to Armenia. But the gendarmes said they could help us. We could request asylum.

In the Netherlands we ended up in Schiphol’s application centre. My brother and I were very angry with our mum for having put us in this situation. I became depressed and had to seek counsel from psychologists.

I feel like I left myself behind in Iran

At the same time, I saw how Christianity had calmed my mum down. The change of faith had done her good. We realised that we had lost many things, but also that we had found a new, good life. My brother and I decided to also become Christians. An Afghani man in the asylum centre gave us the address of a nearby church.

And now my brother and I started a Facebook group for Iranian Christians. Some members go to secret churches in Iran. That is not easy, and definitely not without risks. It is still very hard being a Christian in Iran.

Although we can freely practise our faith here, my brother and I would like to go back someday. I feel like I left myself behind in Iran. We want to work for the church in Isfahan. It would be a way to turn our mother’s dream into a reality.