Thousands of Iranian Muslim migrants and refugees in the Netherlands are converting to Christianity, despite conversion from Islam being considered apostasy in Iran and punishable by death.
A BBC documentary, Praying for Asylum, tells the story of a number of Iranian asylum-seekers in the Netherlands who say they have become Christians and would be exposed to persecution if they were deported.
One of the converts have this to say: “The Christians I met were really nice. At the beginning I wondered how they could be so good. I wanted to know more about their opinion and what they actually thought, and when I read about it, I realised I knew nothing about Christianity, because where we grew up, everything was closed, so closed the we couldn’t get information”.
Iranian-born church leader Masoud Mohammad Amin, who founded Cyrus Church, one of largest Iranian churches in Europe, said he had baptised thousands of Iranians, from the streets of Paris to Turkey.
“It might be situations in countries of origin… It might also be that churches have become more active in evangelising, and it might be that smugglers have been telling them stories about how to get asylum.”
Annick Oerlemans, Dutch Immigration Service
“We didn’t have an Iranian church; we didn’t have Iranian hymns; we didn’t have anyone to tell us about Iran’s role in the Bible… We needed a church with Persian culture,” he said.
He said the church, in the Dutch city of Harderwijk, has been so successful that “8,000 people in the Netherlands and 8,000 people outside the country have been baptised”.