We can only hope that she is safe. And now that some U.S. officials have taken seriously the threat that an apostate is under, can Rifqa Bary get some consideration? Or is it too late for that? “Asylum seeker realized her dream but now is missing,” by Duke Helfand for the Los Angeles Times, October 24 (thanks to Don):
Gilda Ghanipour has spent the last nine years on the run.
Abandoned by her Muslim family for converting to Christianity, she has shuttled from one address to the next, terrified of being deported to her native Iran, where apostasy can be punished by death.
Last year, Ghanipour stumbled upon a retired immigration judge and his Pepperdine University Law School students, who championed her quest for asylum.
Ghanipour won the case. But she doesn’t know it.
The devoutly religious woman vanished shortly before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services delivered on her dream at the end of August.
Her Pepperdine legal advocates are desperately searching for her — calling churches she frequented, scouring prison databases, knocking on doors where she once lived.
Somewhere in Los Angeles, they believe, Ghanipour is wandering alone, as she has for most of the last decade, probably clutching her beloved Bible, possibly sleeping in a homeless shelter or in someone’s spare bedroom.
Police haven’t been able to find her. The coroner has no record of her. Efforts by The Times to locate her through relatives, churches and homeless advocates also were unsuccessful.
The disappearance of the 49-year-old Ghanipour, who speaks three languages and once attended medical school, is especially difficult for those at Pepperdine Law School’s Asylum Clinic.
Gilda, as they’ve known her, was their first client. She offered the lawyers-in-training an early taste of victory. They have only a grainy black-and-white photo to remind them of her thick black hair, her proud smile, her opinionated ways. And they are worried, knowing that Ghanipour has been in ill health.
“Part of me doesn’t want to celebrate until we find her,” said Kristin Heinrich, a third-year law student….