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Maryam's story

Updated: May 3



Maryam, a 24-year-old secular Jordanian and a LGBTQ+ activist, didn’t reach out to the ARAP team for help; ARAP reached out to her. In this unique case, one of our followers shared a social media post about Maryam being detained at the Istanbul airport. She defines herself as an ex-Muslim lesbian.

As she was being taken into custody, she posted about her situation on Twitter, which made its way to the ARAP team. After deliberating with our legal advisors, our Arabic case manager went to the Istanbul airport to find out what was going on. Surprisingly Maryam was released from detention and our case manager took her back to her home.

ARAP has since provided Maryam help with accommodations, and assisted her with finding a decent job, not an easy task in these difficult times. Her family followed her to Turkey and managed to discover her location on more than one occasion. Every time Maryam’s whereabouts were discovered she was contacted by her family, motivating the ARAP team to relocate her each time while assisting her with concealing her communication/digital foot prints.

Maryam’s father is an ISIS supporter who was fighting alongside the Taliban. She was sexually assaulted numerous times by one of her brothers and forced to marry an ISIS fighter. Though Maryam had obtained a visa and visited the United States, she was coerced to return home because of extreme pressure being exerted by her immediate family and husband. When she tried to get escape her abusive husband, she was beaten severely at the hands of her father, forcing her to seek medical treatment. After a few months she decided to fly back to the USA, but airline officers wouldn’t allow let her to depart Jordan, telling her the visa had been canceled. Thanks to the kind help from a female airport official, who overheard the news about her canceled visa to the States, her flight was changed to Istanbul, Turkey. Upon arrival she began her calls for help by tweeting about her dire situation. ARAP personnel rushed quickly to the airport to meet her, and took her in.

Maryam suffered from horrible panic attacks, so our first duty was to provide her psychological guidance services; financial assistance followed soon after. Then we have found her safe accommodations and respectful roommates; we were also able to line up a job for her while providing legal aid. Thankfully, after such an extreme ordeal, Maryam has now found safety and opportunity in a Western nation, far from her abusive husband and violent family.


If you wish to help those in similar situations like Maryam, please show your support to Atheist Refugee Assistance Program Turkey, by donating.

This is a video of Maryam at the Istanbul airport when we have first met her upon her Tweets for help.


Maryam's story in her own words.

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