Christian Converts from Islam: Landmark Decision in UK

From the ACLJ:

An immigration court of appeals in the United Kingdom has, for the first time, recognized the plight of Syrian Evangelical Christians with Muslim backgrounds seeking asylum in the United Kingdom.

In this precedent-setting victory, the European Centre for Law and Justice (the ECLJ, based in Strasbourg, France) represented the young couple (whose identity is being withheld to protect their safety) who was granted refugee status in the U.K.  The court recognized that if the couple returned to Syria – the country of origin of the husband – they would face very real physical threats, possibly resulting in their deaths.  The court granted the appeal on both asylum and human rights grounds.

The couple, former adherents of Islam, converted to Evangelical Christianity (the husband in 2003 and the wife in 2005) and thereafter became open witnesses of the Christian faith to Muslims through Internet chat rooms.

As a result of their conversion, which is deemed apostasy under Sharia law and subject to death, the couple began receiving death threats including a video of a beheading.  The husband’s family told him that if he did not return to Islam, the family would move against him and ”wash their shame” – a phrase that he was told meant he would be put to death.

In its landmark decision, the court recognized that a true commitment to Evangelical Christianity requires evangelism, and that the circumstances of such converts to Evangelicalism in the Muslim world do pose a serious threat to life.

This is a significant and groundbreaking decision that clearly puts the focus on the fact that many converts to Christianity from Islam face real danger, including the ultimate penalty of death.  This important decision will not go unnoticed in the international arena, and we’re delighted that it provides protection for Christian converts who are at great risk because of their faith and their desire to share it.

”This is truly a landmark day in the United Kingdom as a nation awakens to the ever-growing threat of radical Islam and the plight of Christians in the Middle East,” said Roger Kiska, Legal Counsel of the ECLJ.  ”I couldn’t be happier with the decision and the role that the ECLJ played in the case.”

The ECLJ worked closely with the ACLJ on this issue.  The organizations provided legal advice and support throughout the case, as well as the only key expert testimony at the hearing on the threat posed to converts from Islam in Syria.

The ACLJ also enlisted the assistance of six members of the U.S. Congress who sent a letter to the U.K. appeals court in August urging asylum for the couple.  They asked the appeals court to protect the couple, acknowledging that they ”would face severe religious persecution as a result of their conversion from Islam to Christianity.”

The letter also recognized the couple faced a ”credible threat,” and that their lives were in danger.  The letter concluded:

”….based upon the United Kingdom’s strong history of protecting religious refugees, we strongly urge the government of the United Kingdom to spare (the couple) and grant religious asylum in this case.”