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The story of an Iranian Christian who escaped to the U.K. from Tehran after police found a Bible in her handbag.

By Wendy Roberts

4/22/2011 Iran (This is Derbyshire) – An Iranian Christian who feared for her life after police found a Bible in her handbag spent her life-savings escaping to Derby.

Mina Aminoo believed her life was in danger in Tehran after police told her: “Be very afraid. You have done a bad thing by having a Bible.”

Human rights campaigners say there have been “gross violations” of the rights of religious minorities in Iran, including Christians being jailed for blasphemy and one Christian couple being secretly executed.

Terrified Mina, 56, paid a shadowy “fixer” £18,000 for fake documents, visas and a one-way plane ticket to the UK.

“I was in fear of my life,” said Mina.

“I had to escape. I thought I was going to be killed. The police were watching me, that’s what they said.”

She left behind her home, family and high-profile job as a buyer for a food company.

The fixer told her to fly to London and then go to a “safe house” in Derby.

After landing in the strange country, and making her way through immigration, heart pounding, with the forged documents, Mina was lost.

She said: “I thought Derby was round the corner from London. I thought it was on another street or something.

“I was crying when I spotted a policeman and went to ask him.

“He told me I had to get the train. My English was so poor I couldn’t understand him.”

But after finally getting to Derby, she has been helped by a church here, and allowed by the Home Office to stay.

I gave up everything to come here but now I’m safe, free and so happy

She kept her escape secret and slipped out of the country carrying two small suitcases.

Mina Aminoo withdrew her life savings and spent £18,000 on her one-way ticket to Derby.

The 56-year-old sobbed as she waved goodbye to Iran – the country she says she loved with all her heart.

“I had to leave my home, my family and my wonderful job,” she said. “I would have been killed if I had stayed in Tehran.

“The police were watching me and I was scared to talk to anyone. I was unhappy.”

Mina’s life changed forever when police discovered a Bible in her bag. She was returning from a holiday in Turkey when a member of the border authority searched her luggage and found it.

“I was told that it was forbidden in Iran for anyone to convert to Christianity and I was asked if I was going to preach the words of the Bible in Iran. I tried to explain that I’d been given the Bible from a woman in the local church in Istanbul – but the police didn’t believe me.

“They told me to be very afraid. They told me it was a very serious issue.

“My fingerprints were taken and the men filled out lots of forms. I had to tell them everything about me. They wanted to know all kinds of things like my name, address, telephone number, place of work.

“It was very upsetting. The other passengers on the bus were going crazy. Everyone was unkind to me. I cried because I was so scared. I knew I could be killed because I had the Bible. I didn’t want the police to find it in my bag.”

Mina was forbidden by the police to tell anyone about what had happened to her.

But from that moment – less than two years ago – she started to plan her escape from Iran.

[Full Story]