An Iranian woman who has lived in Israel since the age of 15 wants to become a citizen, or at least a recognized refugee, but the state won’t let her. The girl said she’s “as Israeli as could be,” while the Interior Ministry said “it’s complicated,” Maariv reported on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old woman fled Iran 12 years ago and arrived in Israel with her mother and sister. The sister and the mother continued on to Turkey, but she remained in Israel and lived with an adoptive Jewish family. After so many years living in a Jewish home, she said, “lots of Jews tell me I’m more traditional than they are.”
Because she was born to a Muslim family in Iran, however, the Israeli government denied her refugee status or citizenship for a decade. She has resided in Israel on a tourist visa since arriving and can be deported at any moment. This week she hired a lawyer to request a court order for recognition of her refugee status.
“Returning me to Iran is a guaranteed death sentence,” she said.
She told Maariv that the biggest problem is the uncertainty of her position. “I can’t buy anything for my home because I might be deported,” she said.
In the petition to court, her lawyer argued that she meets all criteria set by the UN High Commission on Refugees, and that Israeli authorities have repeatedly postponed the decision without good reason.
An Interior Ministry spokesperson told Maariv that the matter was very complicated and that “the details will be clarified in court.”