Afghan Asylum Seeker Wins Right To Stay In Britain After Converting To Christianity

Afghan asylum seeker wins right to stay in Britain after converting to Christianity

By Tom Kelly
Mail Online
Last updated at 12:39 AM on 18th November 2009
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An Afghan who arrived in Britain on a hijacked jet has been granted asylum after converting to Christianity.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, used human rights rules to overturn a Home Office decision to deport him.

The former Kabul hotel worker claimed he could be executed under Sharia law if he returned home after switching religions.

The man was a passenger on the Boeing 727 seized by nine Afghans in February 2000 and forced to fly to Stansted in Essex.

The 49-year-old father of two was baptised as a Christian five years later and regularly attends church and bible classes in Hounslow, west London.

His lawyers said there were fears that as an apostate – one who rejects the Muslim religion – he would face persecution or even death if he returned to Afghanistan.

His conversion had already led to hostility from other Afghans and Muslims in London who spat at him in the street, the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Tribunal was told.

He was threatened with death by two Afghans with whom he had shared a house and warned by others that he would be killed if he went back to Afghanistan.

Although the Afghan constitution lets non-Muslims practise their faith, the small Christian community stays underground. Afghans are forbidden to abandon Islam.

Home Office lawyers argued that the man would be able to practise his faith if he found Christians and 'kept his head down'.

But Senior Immigration Judge Nichols said going home would expose him to a 'real risk of persecution' which violated Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The hijackers were jailed but later cleared on appeal. In 2006, they were given discretionary leave to remain in Britain as Afghanistan was 'unsafe'.

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