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Bishop of Montreal helps asylum-seeker to remain in Canada

by
17 October 2014

By a staff reporter

HARVEY SHEPHERD/ANGLICAN JOURNAL

Support: Bishop Clarke appears at a press conference with Mrs Awan's daughter, Tahira Malik (centre), with an interpreter, at the end of last month 

Support: Bishop Clarke appears at a press conference with Mrs Awan's daughter, Tahira Malik (centre), with an interpreter, at the...

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 October 2013).

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 as Sipah-e-Sahaba.

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.

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