An apostate in America ............ a convert out of Islam has received asylum (Phil Keating, call your office - oh yeah, don't bother, honor killings don't exist).
This woman got asylum and doesn't know it. She is either on the run or they got to her. Perhaps Pepperdine could start the paperwork for Rifqa.
Abandoned by her Muslim family for converting to Christianity, she has shuttled from one address to the next, terrified of being deported to her native Iran, where apostasy can be punished by death.
Last year, Ghanipour stumbled upon a retired immigration judge and his Pepperdine University Law School students, who championed her quest for asylum.
Ghanipour won the case. But she doesn't know it.
The devoutly religious woman vanished shortly before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services delivered on her dream at the end of August.
Her Pepperdine legal advocates are desperately searching for her -- calling churches she frequented, scouring prison databases, knocking on doors where she once lived.
Somewhere in Los Angeles, they believe, Ghanipour is wandering alone, as she has for most of the last decade, probably clutching her beloved Bible, possibly sleeping in a homeless shelter or in someone's spare bedroom.
Police haven't been able to find her. The coroner has no record of her. Efforts by The Times to locate her through relatives, churches and homeless advocates also were unsuccessful.
The disappearance of the 49-year-old Ghanipour, who speaks three languages and once attended medical school, is especially difficult for those at Pepperdine Law School's Asylum Clinic.
Gilda, as they've known her, was their first client. She offered the lawyers-in-training an early taste of victory. They have only a grainy black-and-white photo to remind them of her thick black hair, her proud smile, her opinionated ways. And they are worried, knowing that Ghanipour has been in ill health.
"Part of me doesn't want to celebrate until we find her," said Kristin Heinrich, a third-year law student.
Ghanipour recounted her life story in declarations accompanying her asylum application. According to the written statements, she spent her childhood in the city of Arak and her adolescence in Tehran, about 200 miles to the north. She married in 1979 shortly after graduating from high school and moved with her husband to Germany to escape the strict fundamentalist rule of the Islamic Revolution.