The scandalous truth about anti-Iran protests in Europe: Using bribery to secure asylum
Anti-Islamic Republic Iranian diaspora in Europe protested against the Iranian government, but not all of them used their day off from work to protest out of hatred towards their government, some of them are in need of a residence permit - and here are the facts.
Anti-government protests Europe emerged after the death of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman who died in custody due to heart failure. About 38,000 protesters have participated in a Western-backed demonstration in Germany, although the number of participants in the recent pro-government rally in Iran was much larger, with 21 million people attending; it's factually interesting that not all of those who protested in Europe came with the same motive of overthrowing the government.
In an effort to destabilize Iran, the West used disinformation campaigns, such as spreading false information about the cause of Mahsa Amini's death, to stir up dissatisfaction toward the Islamic Republic. The riots in Iran were backed by the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), which is responsible for the killing of more than 200 Iranians since the start of the insurgency triggered by the lies surrounding Mahsa's death. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to medical centers and ambulances, as well as extensive destruction of public places such as municipalities, fire trucks, mosques, banks (ATMs) and people's private property, were on the agenda as well.
#Confession deleted!— Zahra Hamidia🇮🇷 (@ZahraHamidia) December 10, 2022
MKO terrorist leader Maryam Rajavi in a video conference wt Italy’s parliament: This movement (#IranRiots) is largely organized thanks to the Mujahedin Khalq Organization.
This part of Rajavi’s speech was published on her website but removed after few hours pic.twitter.com/YmQhX5imRe
Anti-Iran protests in Western countries began to erupt simultaneously with the violent riots inside Iran. The so-called supporters of the "human rights movements" actively encouraged diaspora Iranians to participate in protests organised in Western countries. Western governments provided protection for the protesters and ensured sufficient media coverage, after all the most important aspect of these protests is its media spread in the context of hybrid warfare efforts against Iran. But let's examine why people bother to attend protests against their own legitimate government.
Iranians that want to live in Europe need to obtain a legal residence permit. However, European countries do not hand out residence permits that easily. Upon arrival, one must register oneself as an asylum seeker, and based on your reasons for leaving your country and extensive interviews, your request may or may not get accepted. As Iran is not a war-affected country, you could only apply as a political refugee or an economic migrant. Economic reasons are rarely accepted, therefore the majority of Iranians lean on political reasons.
"A case" is a written testimony which includes your arguments and reasons for your motives to flee your country. European decision-makers are very strict about accepting one's case. You need hard evidence, such as news articles or photographs, to prove that you're at political risk and cannot return to your country of origin.
Complete assimilation - the adjustment to conform to the majority group, basically rejecting your own culture and accepting a new one - is another tactic used by the Iranian diaspora to win their asylum case. A common example is Muslim Iranians converting to Christianity, purely to avoid getting deported, while also increasing their chances to win their asylum case. Why would you ask? Because by converting to Christianity they can - albeit falsely - claim that their new faith would expose them to persecution – including torture and possible execution – if they were to be returned to Iran (which, btw, is home to more than half a million Christians in a country of 87-million, who also have 3 seats reserved in the parliament).
"Holding a baptism certificate significantly enhances the strength of their claim for asylum," says Reverend Pete Wilcox, Dean of Liverpool cathedral. He added: "I can’t think of a single example of somebody who already had British citizenship converting from Islam to Christianity." This provides further evidence that diaspora Iranians are using conversion to Christianity as a means of obtaining a residence permit.
Asylum for Iranian football players
Back during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, in November 2022, when the Iranian football team did not sing the national anthem ahead of the Iran - England match (due to immense pressure from the opposition), UK Parliament member, Alicia Kearns, stressed that Iranian football players would receive Britain's support if they choose to request asylum.
“If we are approached by Iranian (football) players seeking asylum, then of course we should be looking to provide that support to them."
Free asylum for Iranians after Mahsa Amini
In an article written by The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a think-tank funded by the European Parliament and Berlin's Ministry of Defense, the author encourages European countries to offer legal pathways for those who need to "escape" Iran after the 2022 riots - inviting thugs and troublemakers into Europe, and to offer them "refuge".
Before the death of Mahsa Amini, political cases - or converting to Christianity - were not a foolproof method to grant you a residence permit (although chances were very high.) After Mahsa's death, everything changed. Europe entered new phases of hybrid warfare dynamics. Ideas and implementations began to surface ranging from deportation bans all the way to "automatic asylum", for Iranians who "fear persecution" in the Islamic republic.
The policies and measures implemented by European countries, particularly Germany, have been viewed as a signal to Iranians that seeking asylum in Europe is a viable option, which is reflected in the increasing number of applications. In September 2022, 613 Iranians had applied for asylum in Germany. By October, that number rose to 892 and in November to 1,039. In September of the previous year, the number of asylum seekers from Iran stood at only 381.
The asylum seekers in question need to prepare their 'asylum testimony case' backed with strong evidence. What better evidence is there than participating in anti-Iran protests and claiming that it would endanger their lives if they were sent back home?
During a report on the anti-Iran protests in Brussels on February 20th, 2023, by Belgian news outlet VRT, a woman gets interviewed marching the protest who explicitly says that she's a "refugee".
Asylum surge in 2014 - 2016
Moreover, this tactic of faking protests to secure asylum is not new. It is quite common among Iranian individuals to fake their involvement in protests in order to gain asylum in Europe. In some cases, these individuals are even coached on what to say and how to behave in order to convince immigration officials that they are genuine asylum seekers.
It gets more interesting when asylum requests suddenly found a peak during 2014 - 2016, and it is even more interesting that during this peak, the number of rejected applications increased by a lot as well, but not proportionately to the number of requests.
Daniel, an Iranian who was imprisoned in Iran in 2014 for partaking in illegal riots, tells Seefar, an organisation backed by multiple European governments, that he shifted his narrative for his asylum case from an economic standpoint to a more political standpoint due to asylum system policies.
Another example is Elham, a woman who left Iran in 2015, who told Seefar that she had to go through Turkey and eventually ended up in Sweden in mid-2016. She notes the importance of engaging effectively with the asylum process. Elham paid more than $15,000 just for assistance.
“I had no idea about preparing an ideal refugee case to support our refugee application. The assistance of others during those months surely was a savior in preparing a proper refugee application to be
Elham tells Seefar in 2018, p.28 in "Refugee Integration in Europe: Life and Other Plans Among Iranian Irregular Migrants Settling in Europe"
The point here is that getting your asylum request accepted takes time and huge amounts of funds, which not everybody has, so they resort to an easier route - flaunting their separatist flag in front of the camera during anti-Iran protests.
Asylum cases could take up years before being finalized, and even in case of rejection, the asylum seeker can file an appeal, which means one can request asylum several times, and this takes time as well. Refugees from 2016 may very well still have refugee status during the 2022 anti-Iran protests.
Nevertheless, the fact that these protests are being funded and organized by Western entities, raises concerns about political manipulation and interference in the internal affairs of Iran.