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UK: Church allows asylum seekers to exploit it

UK: Church allows asylum seekers to exploit it
CofE is naive about motives of migrants who convert yet watches real believers be persecuted

By Melanie Phillips
February 10,2024

The story of Abdul Ezedi illustrates the policy black hole that is Britain's asylum system. It also illustrates the moral black hole that is the Church of England.

Ezedi, who is suspected of throwing a chemical at a mother and her two young children, is an Afghan asylum seeker who in 2016 was smuggled into Britain in a lorry. His asylum claim was turned down twice, the second time after he was convicted of sexual assault and indecent exposure.

Later, however, he was given permission to remain in Britain after he claimed to have converted to Christianity and a priest vouched that he was "wholly committed" to his new religion. In fact, those who know him have described him as "a good Muslim" who would regularly buy halal meat and who wanted to go back to Afghanistan to find a wife.

Since Christians are persecuted in Afghanistan, Ezedi could claim he would be endangered if he was sent back there. In other words, he underwent baptism in order to game the system.
The church says don't blame us for this, we baptised him in good faith and it's the government's job, not ours, to deal with asylum.

This is disingenuous. There's a history of asylum seekers using baptism to boost their claims. Nearly one in seven of the 300 migrants on the Bibby Stockholm barge are currently converting to Christianity.

In 2021 Emad al-Swealmeen, who had been baptised in Liverpool Cathedral a year after his asylum claim was turned down in 2016, blew himself up in a taxi outside a maternity hospital in the city.
In 2016 the Rt Rev Pete Wilcox, then dean of the cathedral, said it had converted 200 asylum seekers in four years. Yet he couldn't think of a single example where somebody who had already gained British citizenship converted from Islam to Christianity.

The previous year, a lay minister at the cathedral warned that some asylum seekers "attend church with the sole purpose of advancing their asylum claims". It also emerged that on Instagram people-smugglers were urging migrants to "follow Jesus" to help them gain British citizenship.

Yet the church said it wasn't aware of any evidence to suggest "a widespread correlation" between conversion to Christianity and abuse of the asylum system. Maybe that's because the church doesn't accept that bogus asylum claims are an abuse. For it never speaks out against them. It implies instead that all asylum claims are genuine.

A leaked church paper, entitled Supporting Asylum Seekers -- Guidance for Church of England Clergy, contains guidance to priests on how to "mount a personal campaign" if an asylum case in which they are involved is rejected. Specifically, it advises: "If the person has converted to Christianity after a previous refusal, that may be the basis of a fresh claim."

It makes no mention of the need to be vigilant for asylum seekers trying to game the system. On the contrary, it described claims that asylum seekers were getting baptised in order to win their cases as part of the "anti-immigration rhetoric" of media outlets that supported "a broader political narrative about British identity, rights and values, as was particularly evident in the run-up to the EU referendum"

The abuse of baptism is one of the innumerable loopholes in the asylum system exploited by an army of lawyers, NGOs and charities determined to thwart any refusals.

The real point, of course, is that the asylum system isn't fit for purpose. What started out as a principled response to persecution has resulted in the farcical situation in which Britain is powerless to protect itself from the violence or criminal activities of those who abuse the asylum rules.

If the church's role is merely one aspect of the rottenness of the asylum system, the asylum system is one aspect of the rottenness of the church.

In his speech in the House of Lords against the Rwanda bill, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said asylum seekers were "of great value" and Christian tradition was to "welcome the stranger".

Last year he misrepresented those wanting to curb the number of asylum seekers in Britain as using "shrill narratives that all who come to us for help should be treated as liars, scroungers, or less than fully human".

He has expressed no outrage at the abuse of baptism and lying to a priest in dishonest asylum claims. What makes this indulgence of those who thus trash Christianity for their own purposes quite nauseating is the enormous persecution of Christians around the world. The 2023 watch list produced by the charity Open Doors describes the persecution level of Christians in Syria and Afghanistan, for example, as "extreme".

Yet in 2022, an article in the International Journal for Religious Freedom claimed that the refugee policy of both the UK and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees discriminated against Christians and other minorities in Syria and Afghanistan.

In 2020, no fewer than 99 per cent of asylum seekers from Syria who were accepted into the UK were Sunni Muslims, who were the least likely to be discriminated against on grounds of religion.

While the church fails to campaign for real Christian refugees to come to the UK, it turns a blind eye to bogus Christians gaming the system. Is this what the archbishop means by a "compassionate" asylum policy?

Former Archbishop Lord Carey says the church must not turn a blind eye to impact of mass migration: You can read it here:

Asylum seekers dupe church leaders to avoid deportation, say judges

Church of England has become 'conveyor belt for asylum seeker fake conversions'
The Rev Matthew Firth accuses Church leaders of turning blind eye to 'extraordinary' number of migrants manipulating system.

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