"Kurosh," an Iranian convert to Christianity who received asylum in Germany four years ago, faced a 25,000 euro fine or a prison sentence if he did not respond to a lengthy series of questions about his faith from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). He was also required to provide a certificate from the pastor at his church to demonstrate his commitment to his faith. He reports that he provided all the information requested, but remains in fear that this will happen again. This is the BAMF "Revocation and Withdrawal Procedure."
Reza Karkah, an Iranian Christian, faces the prospect of imprisonment, torture and separation from his wife and child after the UK Home Office rejected his application for asylum on the basis that he was ‘fabricating’ his Christian faith.
In October 2018, an elderly nun applied for a place in a retirement home in Vesoul, run by the city's Centre Communal d'Action Sociale (CCAS) in her home prefecture of Haute-Saone. After nine months on the waiting list, on July 2019, her request for housing was accepted, but with one condition: "With due respect for secularism, any ostentatious sign of belonging to a religious community cannot be accepted in order to ensure the serenity of all. Indeed, religion is a private affair and must remain so." The nun was told she could only wear a discreet cross. Having worn her religious habit all of her adult life, she refused to comply and was thus denied a place.
Victory in international court bolsters protections for Christians who face life-threatening persecution in home countries.
An Iranian Christian woman living in the state of Hesse in Germany fears for her life if she is forced to return to Iran, due to strict anti-conversion laws. The woman known as "Mahsa" fled Iran and traveled to Germany in 2015, after an attempted arrest by the religious police for her conversion to Christianity. A recent decision by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) denying her asylum limits Mahsa's options going forward.
The Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans (CDU) rejected the request of the Assyrian Cultural Association Saarlouis allow about 400 Syrian Christians from the conflict-torn region of Northern Syria on the Khabur River to enter Saarland. Despite offers of respite and assistance from the existing Assyrian community in the German federal state, the government said it would only admit five refugees.
After surviving a 2014 car accident which resulted in tetraplegic paralysis and blindness, Italian disc Jockey Fabiano Antoniani (DJ Fabo) traveled to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end his life. The subsequent ruling of the Italian Constitutional Court over proceedings made against his accomplice now opens the door for the legalization of assisted suicide in Italy.
Protestant pastor Dr. Gottfried Martens, who ministers to over 1,600 people in his church, most of them converts and asylum seekers from Iran and Afghanistan, has said that whether someone is granted asylum or not is almost like a "pure gamble." The problem Martens sees in the administrative courts is how judges "verify" the earnestness of an asylum seeker's conversion to Christianity. Some trust a pastor's statement whether written or oral in court, while some ignore it and only focus on the short time they spend with the refugee in court. This fully depends on what kind of judge one gets appointed to, according to Martens, and there is no way to prepare well enough for a court date if there is no general regulation that a minister's statement be taken into account.
The Iranian Christian convert Fatemeh Azad's claim for asylum due to conversion to Christianity was rejected by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees and she was deported to Iran. The reason for her rejection was that she did not convince the judge of her genuine conversion. Upon arrival in Iran, she was arrested immediately and released on bail and now she is waiting for her trial which could mean a death sentence because in Iran there is a death penalty for apostasy from Islam.
Kristie Higgs, a Christian school worker will challenge a Gloucestershire school academy’s decision to dismiss her for gross misconduct. She was dismissed after she shared two posts on her Facebook page in October 2018 that raised concerns about Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) at another school in the same village - her child’s Church of England primary school. Higgs was told following an investigation and a six hour hearing that she would be dismissed without notice for gross misconduct.
A study analyzing the asylum claims from 2015-2018 of 619 Afghan converts to Christianity outlined serious shortcomings in the Swedish Migration Board's process. 68% of the converts were denied asylum on the grounds that their conversions were not deemed to be "genuine," despite all of them being baptized members of 76 churches in 64 locations across Sweden. The report noted that the Migration Board emphasized knowledge-based answers to questions and intellectual ability, rather than evidence of belief, religious practice, and involvement in church life.
An Iranian man who converted to Christianity after discovering it was a peaceful religion in contrast to Islam had his asylum claim rejected by the Home Office on March 19th. In a rejection letter from the Home Office, passages with violent imagery from the Bible including Matthew, Revelation, and Exodus were used to argue that the claimant's claim about Christianity was false. “These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful religion’ as opposed to Islam, which contained violence and rage,” the letter read. The Home Office later said the letter was "not in accordance with our policy approach to claims based on religious persecution" and agreed to reconsider the application.
An elderly man preaching at the Southgate Underground Station was arrested by London police after he refused to leave the area, telling him he was "disturbing people's days" and needed to go away. The police seized the man's Bible despite his pleas not to take it.
Asher Samson, a Pakistani Christian who fought to stay in the UK after allegedly being beaten and repeatedly threatened with execution by Islamic extremists in Pakistan, was deported back to Pakistan on January 9th. Samson, backed by thousands of Christians, attempted to persuade the UK government to allow him to stay after being threatened with execution by Islamic extremists in his home country.
Christian refugees from the Middle East are widely underrepresented in the United Kingdom. In 2017, 4,832 Syrians were accepted to the UK, however, only 11 were Christians. The Home Office has acknowledged that Christian refugees in the Middle East are “reluctant” to enter the UNHCR refugee camp system, but refuses to state this is because of persecution.
Asia Bibi, who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan, was released from prison after the Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned her sentence for “insulting the Prophet Mohammed.” Her acquittal led to unrest and riots among Pakistan's Muslim hardliners, prompting the government to try to prevent her from leaving the country. Her husband, Ashiq Masih, pleaded to the UK government: “I am requesting the Prime Minister of the UK help us and as far as possible grant us freedom.” The British government reportedly rejected this request for fear of civil unrest.
The president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, wavered from his neutral position and backed the communists and government coalition parties' plan to tax outstanding restitution payments to churches and religious communities whose property had been confiscated during the communist regime. In a TV interview he said is was "angry" to some extent because church institutions have continued to demand compensation and filed complaints against municipalities despite the decisions that were made in the 2013 restitution laws.
An appellate court ordered a rehearing by immigration tribunals after Judge Lord Glennie, one of the appeal judges, found that the asylum judges had disregarded churchgoer's evidence of the Christian conversion of two Iranian asylum seekers who have been attending Tron Church in Glasgow and had been predisposed to rejecting their claims.
Not a single Christian was among the 1,112 Syrian refugees resettled in the UK in the first three months of 2018. In response to a Freedom of Information request from Barnabas Fund, the UK Home Office released figures on Syrian refugees resettled in the UK for the first quarter of 2018. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recommended 1,358 Syrian refugees for resettlement in the UK of which only 4 were Christians, representing a tiny fraction of just 0.29%. No Yazidis at all were recommended by the UN. The Home Office agreed to resettle 1,112 of these (82%), all of whom were Muslims, and approved no Christians.
Poland's Supreme Court ruled against a printer who refused to create a roll-up banner for an LGBT business group because he did not want to "promote" the gay rights movement, citing his Catholic religious beliefs. The Court held that although there may be legally justifiable reasons to refuse services based on religious objections, in this case they did not apply. UPDATE: In June 2019, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the law the printer was convicted under was unconstitutional, because punishment for refusing to provide services on the grounds of beliefs interfered with the service providers’ rights to act according to their conscience.