I am also thinking of my dear friend Dr. Roya Araghi, who has a PhD in chemistry and was a university professor. She is also a follower of the pacifist Ayatollah Boroujerdi, who supports separation of religion and state and rejects the clerical regime in Iran as contrary to his interpretation of Shi’ite Islam. He is also a pacifist Ayatollah who supports equal rights for women. He is a political prisoner in Iran since 2006 who has been severely tortured and subjected to solitary confinement by the regime. He is currently serving an 11 year prison sentence, and basically he will remain in captivity until the Islamist regime in Iran falls.
Dr. Araghi was arrested in 2006 while attempting to protect Ayatollah Boroujerdi from arrest at his home, and she was fired from her university job after serving a week in prison. Thus she was unemployed for four years, and then in November, 2010, she was arrested again by the Iranian regime. This time she was severely tortured because of her contact with me as an American Zionist Jew and called a spy for Israel. She was tortured for several months and then escaped Iran while she was on sick leave from prison.
She went to Malaysia, which is one of two countries that Iranians can enter without a visa. Turkey is the other country for Iranian refugees without a visa. Our mutual friend Mr. Akbar Atri of http://www.tavaana.org told me that Turkey is the primary country to which Iranian political refugees flee when they are seeking asylum in the West. In fact, Dr. Araghi’s case is the first one that he knows about of an Iranian dissident seeking political asylum in Malaysia. Unfortunately, Roya’s first hearing for political asylum at the UN in Malaysia last Friday did not go well, and so she was told to wait another 13 months and come back in August, 2012.
Naturally Roya was devastated and angry about her fate, as she is not allowed to work in Malaysia and has no funds for living in Malaysia for 13 months. Also her sister was arrested in her place as a hostage after her escape, and so she worries about her family which is trapped back in Iran. A knowledgeable Iranian in Germany who harbors a deep hatred of all Shi’ite clerics told me the reason that Roya’s application was initially rejected was possibly that her support for Israel and the Jews and her affiliation with a cleric were regarded as contradictory. In other words, nearly all clerics, including both liberal Islamists and supporters of the current regime, are virulently anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. Thus, anyone who considers herself a follower of any cleric would be considered automatically anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. I admire Roya for her bravery and her willingness to stand as a Shi’ite Muslim with Israel and the Jews, and so I am going to raise her case with American Jewish organizations and see if they are willing to intervene on her behalf.