In two unrelated cases, the United Kingdom denied asylum to persecuted Christians by bizarrely citing the Bible and Jesus. Both Christians, a man and a woman, are former Muslims who were separately seeking asylum from the Islamic Republic of Iran, the ninth worst persecutor of Christians, particularly those who were formerly Muslims, as in these two cases.
UK asylum worker Nathan Stevens recently shared their stories.
In his rejection letter from the UK’s Home Office, which is in charge of immigration, the Iranian man was told that biblical passages were “inconsistent” with his claim to have converted to Christianity after discovering it was a “peaceful” faith. The letter cited several biblical excerpts, including from Exodus, Leviticus, and Matthew, presumably to show that the Bible is violent; it said Revelation was “filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence.” The governmental letter then concluded: “These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion, as opposed to Islam which contains violence, rage and revenge.”
In response, Nathan Stevens, the asylum seeker’s caseworker, tweeted:
I’ve seen a lot over the years, but even I was genuinely shocked to read this unbelievably offensive diatribe being used to justify a refusal of asylum. Whatever your views on faith, how can a government official arbitrarily pick bits out of a holy book and then use them to trash someone’s heartfelt reason for coming to a personal decision to follow another faith?
In rejecting the claim for asylum of this man who converted from Islam to Christianity, and presumably compelling his return to Iran, the British government is effectively sentencing him to death.
In the second case, an Iranian female asylum seeker was informed in her rejection letter that “You affirmed in your AIR [Asylum Interview Record] that Jesus is your saviour, but then claimed that He would not be able to save you from the Iranian regime. It is therefore considered that you have no conviction in your faith and your belief in Jesus is half-hearted.”
Recently interviewed on BBC Radio 4, the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “When I was in Iran I converted to Christianity and the situation changed and the government were [sic] looking for me and I had to flee from Iran…. In my country if someone converts to Christianity their punishment is death or execution.” Concerning the asylum process, she said that whenever she responded to her Home Office interviewer, “he was either chuckling or maybe just kind of mocking when he was talking to me…. [H]e asked me why Jesus didn’t help you from the Iranian regime or Iranian authorities.”
These two recently exposed cases appear to be symptomatic of a venomous Home Office’s bias against Christians. For example, when Sister Ban Madleen, a Christian nun who was chased out of Iraq by the Islamic State, wanted to visit her sick sister in the UK, she was denied a visa—twice. A number of other Christian orderlies were also denied visas, including another nun with a PhD in Biblical Theology from Oxford; another nun denied for not having a personal bank account; and a Catholic priest denied for not being married.
In another case, the Home Office not only denied entry to three heroic Christian leaders—archbishops celebrated for their efforts to aid persecuted Christians in Syria and Iraq who had been invited to attend the consecration of the UK’s first Syriac Cathedral, an event attended by Prince Charles—but also mockingly told them there was “no room at the inn.”
Even longtime Christian residents are being deported. Earlier this year, Asher Samson, 41, a Christian man who had been residing in the UK for 15 years and undergoing theological studies, was deported back to Pakistan, where he was earlier “beaten and threatened by Islamic extremists.” (Such treatment is normative for Christians in Pakistan, the world’s fifth worst persecutor of Christians.)
“I’ve received some messages from him,” his former UK pastor said. “He’s very scared, he’s fearful for his life…. He’s in hiding in Pakistan and his family are terribly worried for him…. At the moment he has no funds to live on—he can’t work …. [T]he UK is sending people back to these countries where their lives are in danger.”
More generally, a report found that when it comes to offering asylum, the UK “appears to discriminate in favour of Muslims” instead of Christians. Statistics confirmed this allegation: “out of 4,850 Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement by the Home Office in 2017, only eleven were Christian, representing just 0.2% of all Syrian refugees accepted by the UK.”
Statistics from earlier years showed the same disparity. Although Christians accounted for approximately 10 percent of Syria’s prewar population, the overwhelming majority of Syrians granted asylum by the Home Office were Sunni Muslims. Such an imbalance appears even stranger when one realizes that the Islamic State is itself a Sunni organization that only targets non-Sunnis, primarily Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims, all minority groups the U.S. government acknowledges have experienced genocide.
As Lord David Alton of Liverpool, a life peer in the House of Lords, wrote to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who heads the Home Office:
It is widely accepted that Christians, who constituted around 10 per cent of Syria’s pre-war population, were specifically targeted by jihadi rebels and continue to be at risk…. As last year’s statistics more than amply demonstrate, this [ratio imbalance between Muslim and Christian refugees taken in] is not a statistical blip. It shows a pattern of discrimination that the Government has a legal duty to take concrete steps to address.
Considering that persecuted Christian minorities—including priests and nuns—are denied visas, one may conclude that the Home Office is extremely stringent concerning its asylum requirements. However, this notion is quickly dispelled on the realization that the Home Office regularly grants extremist Muslims visas and refugee status (not to mention one has yet to hear about Muslim asylum seekers being denied because the Koran is too violent, or because they do not have enough faith in Muhammad).
For example, despite having no papers on him—and despite telling the Home Office that “he had been trained as an ISIS soldier”—Ahmed Hassan was still granted asylum two years before he launched a terrorist attack on a London train station that left 30 injured in September 2017. The Home Office also allowed a foreign Muslim cleric to enter and lecture in London, even though he advocates decapitating, burning, and/or throwing homosexuals from cliffs. According to another report, “British teenagers are being forced to marry abroad and are raped and impregnated while the Home Office ‘turns a blind eye’ by handing visas to their [mostly Muslim] husbands.”
The case of Asia Bibi—a Christian wife and mother of five who spent the last decade of her life on death row in Pakistan for challenging the authority of Muhammad—is perhaps emblematic of the immigration situation in the UK. After she was finally acquitted last November, Muslims rioted throughout Pakistan; in one march, more than 11,000 Muslims demanded her instant and public hanging.
As Pakistanis make for the majority of all UK Muslims—Sajid Javid the head of the Home Office is himself Pakistani—when they got wind that the UK might offer Asia Bibi asylum, they too rioted. As a result, Prime Minister Theresa May personally blocked Bibi’s asylum application, “despite UK playing host to [Muslim] hijackers, extremists and rapists,” to quote from one headline. In other words, the UK was openly allowing “asylum policy to be dictated to by a Pakistan mob,” reported the Guardian, “after it was confirmed it urged the Home Office not to grant Asia Bibi political asylum in the UK…”
On the other hand, the Home Office allowed a Pakistani cleric who celebrated the slaughter of a politician because he had defended Asia Bibi—a cleric deemed so extreme as to be banned from his native Pakistan—to enter and lecture in UK mosques.
In short, local Muslim opinion apparently plays a major role in the UK’s immigration policy: Christian “infidels” need not apply, whereas radical Muslims are welcomed with open arms.
Pointing out how “visas were granted [by the Home Office] in July to two Pakistani Islamic leaders who have called for the killing of Christians accused of blasphemy,” Dr. Martin Parsons, a human rights activist, summarized the situation well:
It’s unbelievable that these persecuted Christians who come from the cradle of Christianity are being told there is no room at the inn, when the UK is offering a welcome to Islamists who persecute Christians…. There is a serious systemic problem when Islamist leaders who advocate persecution of Christians are given the green light telling them that their applications for UK visas will be looked on favourably, while visas for short pastoral visits to the UK are denied to Christian leaders whose churches are facing genocide. That is an urgent issue that Home Office ministers need to grasp and correct.