Negar Azizmoradi, a leader of the Iranian sect of the International Raelian Movement, was given asylum in the United States from religious persecution after denouncing Islam.
The cult leader committed the worst kind of crime in Iranian culture- apostasy, or the denouncement of the state’s religious faith- and as a result, she was forced to run for her life. In the Muslim country, apostasy is punishable by death.
A statement by the IRM revealed the details of the woman’s harried escape
"She was forced to flee Iran when her family received word that she was about to be arrested and thrown into prison,” read their website, Raelianews.org.
Azizmoradi fled to neighboring Turkey, like many Iranian citizens, looking for more opportunity, freedom from oppression and political terrorizing, and different religious choices. Turkey does not traditionally offer asylum for Iranian refugees, though, choosing instead to detain them in detention centers, release them to other countries, or force them back over the border to their repressive home.
When Turkish officials discovered Azizmoradi without identification, they did not hesitate to arrest her.
"She was then thrown into a Turkish jail, where she suffered dreadful conditions that were life-threatening due to her lung ailment,” said the organization. “What's more, Turkey was going to send her back to Iran to face certain death.”
Once the IRM learned of her imprisonment, they began a campaign to secure her freedom, pressuring the Turkish government to release Azizmoradi to a country that was tolerant of religious differences. After two years of struggle, they managed to orchestrate her release to the United States with help from Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.
Azizmoradi arrives in Las Vegas today at 3 p.m., local time.
It is no surprise that Azizmoradi was in danger in Iran, as the country is highly intolerant of religious differences, and Raelian principle goes directly against Islamic law. Raelians believe in a number of unconventional convictions, from extraterrestrials to women having the right to go topless.
Once Azizmoradi denounced Islam, she became the target of Iran’s discrimination against any non-Muslim peoples.