According to Raelia News, Negar Azizmoradi, a leader of the Iranian branch of the International Raelian Movement has been granted asylum in the United States.* Ms. Azizmoradi faced a possible death sentence in Iran because of her leadership role in the Raelian movement and because she is an atheist who renounced Islam (apostasy is punishable by death in Iran).* She*fled to Turkey, where the government jailed her and threatened to return her to Iran.* After*Raelians and others from different countries protested, the Turkish government*released her and allowed her to come to the United States.* Last week, she received asylum (given the timing of events, it might be that she came here as a*refugee, rather than claiming asylum after she arrived).

For those of you not familiar with Rael (a/k/a Claude Vorilhon) and his followers (called Raelians), here's a bit of background.* Mr. Vorilhon was born in France.* He has been a race car driver, a singer, and a journalist.* In 1973, he encountered extraterrestrials, who gave him a message to pass on to other humans.* The message involved the secret history of the world and the return of the extraterrestrials.* Since then, Rael (as he is now known), has been spreading his news around the globe.* It's not surprising that some countries, including Iran, have been less than receptive to his message.

For me as an attorney,*Ms. Azizmoradi's asylum application would have been a dream case.* Not that I'm a great fan of Rael, who supported Muammar Gaddafi and seems to have no love for the*Jews.* However, I am a big fan of UFOs, lost civilization, and all things Fortean, and a Raelian asylum case certainly fits that bill. And asylum seems necessary here, where Ms. Azizmoradi faced persecution (or worse) in Iran.

Barney Hill: Immigrant and Abductee.

While we are on the subject of UFOs and immigrants, here's an interesting tidbit.* The most famous UFO abduction case involved a couple, Betty and Barney Hill.* In September 1961, the Hills were driving through New Hampshire when they spotted a flying saucer (as UFOs were called back then).* They could see humanoids observing them from inside the saucer.* After their encounter, they realized that they "lost" three hours of their lives.* The case was investigated by the U.S. military and others, and has been the subject of several books and TV movies.* It also marked the beginning of an abduction craze, and many people claimed experiences similar to the Hill's.

While people familiar with Hill's case know that the couple was of mixed race (which was very unusual for 1961 America), what is not widely known is that Barney Hill was either an immigrant from Ethiopia or a descendent of Ethiopian immigrants.* I have never been able to find much information about this aspect of the case, but it strikes me as quite interesting.* When and why did he come here?* What was his birth name (I've met a lot of Ethiopians, but never any named Barney or Hill)?* How did he meet his wife?* Much has been made of Barney's race in analyzing the case, including a recent scholarly article, but I have never seen anything specifically addressing his status as an immigrant.* I suppose there are many questions, but no answers.* So, as the ufologists say: Keep watching the skies!

Originally posted on the Asylumist: