THE Bishop of Montreal, the Rt Revd Barry Clarke, has posted a
bond for a Pakistani woman, Khurshi Begum Awan, who is seeking
asylum in Canada and is threatened with deportation (News, 13
Mrs Awan had sought refuge in a city church a year earlier, but
her medical condition has deteriorated, and she has required
hospital treatment for a heart condition.
Mrs Awan's husband, Mohamed Khalil Awan, was deported to
Pakistan last year. Her daughter remains in Canada, however, and
obtained citizenship in 2000.
The family are Shia Muslims, a minority in Pakistan, and they
have argued that they face persecution from an organisation known
Bishop Clarke has posted a $5000 bond to allow Mrs Awan to
remain in Canada, pending the results of a risk assessment and her
application for permanent residency, based on humanitarian and
compassionate grounds. At a press conference, Bishop Clarke
described the Awan family as "voices crying in the wilderness".
After a revival of the Sanctuary movement in the United States
and Canada, dozens of congregations have declared themselves as
places of sanctuary for asylum-seekers such as Mrs Awan.
Immigration officials class places of worship as "sensitive
locations", and do not seize those inside for deportation.