ASYLUM? NO, THIS IS BEDLAM; This Week It Was Revealed an Afghan Atheist Won Asylum in Britain on Religious Grounds. in Fact, Says SUE REID, That's One of the Saner Claims

Daily Mail (London), January 17, 2014 | Go to article overview

ASYLUM? NO, THIS IS BEDLAM; This Week It Was Revealed an Afghan Atheist Won Asylum in Britain on Religious Grounds. in Fact, Says SUE REID, That's One of the Saner Claims


Byline: Sue Reid

HERE'S a puzzle: can you guess which of these three claims was put forward to a judge by an asylum seeker hoping to stay in Britain?

'I killed a snake at home in Nigeria and because it's worshipped as sacred, I'll be killed if I return'; 'I eat beef, so I'll be a target of religious bigotry if I go back to India'; 'I face persecution as a Catholic in China -- even though I can't spell "Jesus".' In fact, you guessed it, all three have featured as arguments for foreigners to stay here indefinitely.

This week it emerged that a young Afghan has won his fight to stay in Britain on religious grounds, despite the fact that he's a selfprofessed atheist.

He argued that apostasy -- or abandoning the Islamic faith -- is punishable with the death penalty under Afghan law. Sadly, he is almost certainly correct.

But whatever sympathy one might have for this young migrant, his tale shines a light once more on our asylum courts, which cost millions of pounds a year to run.

Yesterday, it was reported that the number of pending asylum cases has risen by 23 per cent in a year to the highest level since the coalition government was formed in 2010.

Every week, around 1,500 asylum seekers attempt -- with the help of their immigration lawyers -- to convince judges they should be allowed to stay.

On the opposite side are teams of battleweary Home Office lawyers who've heard every one of the migrants' stories before. Meanwhile, armies of interpreters, earning PS200 a day -- funded by the taxpayer, naturally -- and versed in tongues ranging from Pidgin English (spoken in remote areas of Africa and New Guinea) to Korean and Farsi, are on parade, too.

And overseeing the jamboree are the judges, a well-meaning brigade restrained by the political correctness pervading the asylum system, and faced with Human Rights laws which prevent the expulsion of any migrant with a half-believable tale of persecution or loss of their family life.

Asylum is protection given by Britain to foreigners fleeing here to escape persecution in their own countries.

It's granted under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which was established by the international community in response to the plight of Holocaust victims and others displaced from central and eastern Europe as a result of World War II.

But over the years such a well-meaning ideal has increasingly been exploited by some who seek a new life in Britain without true justification for being here.

Of course many asylum seekers tell the truth, in which case Britain has a duty to offer them shelter. Equally, some of the less credible stories put before the asylum judges may be backed up with other, more substantial arguments.

The problem is that those who are dishonest muddy the waters so much that it's increasingly hard to tell the genuine cases from those who seek to abuse the system.

THE most recent figures show that 42 per cent of the asylum seekers win their cases at a first hearing or subsequent appeal. But the majority of those who have asylum refused do not leave the country anyway, according to the Home Office.

I have spent days at the asylum courts and watched numerous asylum seekers, such as those Chinese Catholics who couldn't spell 'Jesus'.

I have seen Pakistanis who say they've been spotted indulging in homosexual acts on rooftops in Karachi by mullahs -- behaviour which will earn them imprisonment or worse if they have to go home.

It is a story that resulted in a successful asylum claim a decade ago that is now repeated by others from Islamic nations.

They may well be telling the truth. But the more men who offer the same story, the harder it is to believe they are all genuine.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of other cases that stretch credence.

One woman from Nigeria came to Britain and overstayed her visa. …

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ASYLUM? NO, THIS IS BEDLAM; This Week It Was Revealed an Afghan Atheist Won Asylum in Britain on Religious Grounds. in Fact, Says SUE REID, That's One of the Saner Claims
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