Immigration authorities overrule the Church / News / The Foreigner

Immigration authorities overrule the Church. Norwegian priests claim immigration authorities are undermining their religious office by deporting refugee Christian converts. The authorities claim many asylum seekers are trying it on. Afghan refugee Ghadir was baptised in Hoff Church in Toten after converting from Islam in 2006. The Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) has turned his asylum application down amidst doubts he converted for religious reasons.

hoff, toten, une, immigration, appeals, board, udi, directorate, christian, converts, bishop, hamar, solveig, fiske, norwegian, church, ghadir, afghanistan, persecution, islam, muslim, asylum, refugee



The Foreigner Logo

The Foreigner is an online publication for English speakers living or who have an interest in Norway. Whether it’s a glimpse of news or entertainment you’re after, there’s no need to leave your linguistic armchair. You don’t need to cry over the demise of the English pages of Aftenposten.no, The Foreigner is here!

Norske nyheter på engelsk fra Norge. The Foreigner er en engelskspråklig internett avis for de som bor eller som er interessert i Norge.

Google+ Google+ Twitter Facebook RSS RSS



News Article

LATEST:

}

Immigration authorities overrule the Church

Published on Friday, 10th September, 2010 at 14:17 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

Norwegian priests claim immigration authorities are undermining their religious office by deporting refugee Christian converts. The authorities claim many asylum seekers are trying it on.

Hoff Church
Hoff Church
Photo: John Erling Blad/Wikimedia Commons


Credibility problem

Afghan refugee Ghadir was baptised in Hoff Church in Toten after converting from Islam in 2006.

The Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) has turned his asylum application down amidst doubts he converted for religious reasons.

“We have statements about conversion in appeal cases involving asylum seekers from different countries, but most of our portfolio has consisted of Afghans since 2006. There were very few who gave conversion as a reason to obtain protection in Norway before then. The following two years saw a considerable increase in the number of cases where conversion was given as an argument,” Ingun Halle, head of division at the UNE tells The Foreigner.

In 2006, the UNE allowed a handful to stay because they had converted.

“An Afghan who had converted to Christianity whilst living in Afghanistan received a lot of media attention because he risked being put to death. He was granted asylum in Italy after considerable international pressure,” she says.

Norwegian immigration authorities negotiated a repatriation agreement with Afghanistan.

Halle says approximately half of the asylum seekers who had given conversion as their reason were permitted to explain their appeal in front of the Appeal’s Board.

“About 25 percent of these were found to be credible, 75 percent not,” she says.

Procedures

The UNE bases part of its decision on when the refugee made his/her statement about conversion.

“Importance is attached both to general credibility [and] when the statement about conversion was made. Often, it comes after rejection by the UDI (Directorate of Immigration) or a final refusal by us,” she says.

Religious activity, knowledge of the Christian faith, and proper reflection about choice of religion is also taken in to consideration.

“Reflection is particularly important. Converting to Christianity is a serious step for an Afghan to make,” says Halle.

According to the Norwegian Church, it is fundamental that prospective Christians themselves ask to be converted.  They must base their decision upon their own experiences of, as well as what they have learnt about Christianity.

The Bishop of Hamar Solveig Fiske says she is astonished by UNE allegations about the genuineness of conversions and baptisms.

“If it is true, I find it remarkable that UNE expresses distrust of priests in the Norwegian Church's management of the sacrament of baptism. I trust that the way priests handle this is in line with the recommended procedures and that they follow the baptised up with training and preparation for participation in the worship community and in other church work.”

Equality

“I am concerned that religion must be emphasized along with the rest of the facts in each application. This means that converting to Christianity must be weighed against the risks that are associated with being sent back to their home country as a Christian,” says Bishop Fiske.  

Ingun Halle claims UNE procedures are adequate.

“In cases involving conversion statements, we have to make a concrete and individual assessment to determine whether they will be considered as a convert in their home country or not.”

Ghadir now faces deportation even though he could possibly face the death penalty for his religious convictions. Converting to Christianity from Islam is illegal in Muslim countries.

Halle says that in general, there are people who try to abuse the system.

“Our task, as in all cases, is to find out who risks persecution upon return and who does not. It is clear that there are both sincere converts and individuals who use the argument in an attempt to obtain a residence permit in Norway.”



Published on Friday, 10th September, 2010 at 14:17 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .

This post has the following tags: hoff, toten, une, immigration, appeals, board, udi, directorate, christian, converts, bishop, hamar, solveig, fiske, norwegian, church, ghadir, afghanistan, persecution, islam, muslim, asylum, refugee.





  
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!