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Christian Iranians granted asylum in U.S.

.- An Iranian family's five-year fight to stay in the United States ended March 2 when they were finally granted political asylum. Saeed Salman and his family came to the United States from Iran on visitors' visas in 1999. Their application for political asylum was denied in July 2000 by a Chicago immigration judge and again in 2003 by the Board of Immigration Appeals. However, political persecution in Iran was not the family's only fear.

Salman and his family converted from Islam to Christianity in July 2000 and were baptized in 2003. However, conversion from Islam to another faith is punishable by death in Iran.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty was part of the team of lawyers who filed documents with the Immigration Board to highlight the ongoing religious persecution in Iran. They requested that the case be reopened in light of this legitimate threat that had yet to be considered. The board agreed to reopen the case and the United States Department of Justice Executive Office of Immigration Review in Chicago rendered its judgment, granting asylum.

"The Executive Office made the right decision, the only tolerable decision," noted Jared Leland, media and legal counsel for The Becket Fund. "To disregard the heinous truth about religious persecution in Iran would have been a crime in and of itself. Today, four lives and a fundamental right were saved."

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is an international, interfaith, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions.

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