From the Revd Alexander Faludy
Sir, — Although Home Office procedures for examining applications for refugee status have been poor for some time, there is disturbing evidence that they may actually be getting worse.
Recently, one of our clients at Walking With (an ecumenical project supporting asylum-seekers) had his claim refused. “M” is an Iranian convert to Christianity who fled to Britain in face of the death penalty for apostasy in force in Iran.
Among the objections presented by the Home Office to M’s claim was that his attendance at a succession of different churches in England represented a lack of stable attachment to a religious community. That the changes of church were occasioned by the Home Office’s moving him between five addresses in different towns while his claim was in progress was strangely overlooked.
M’s lack of engagement in street proselytism while in the UK was also cited as convincing evidence that he would not risk persecution at home through seeking to share his faith with others. How many Anglican clergy would pass this test?
It used to be that people were specially attracted to seek refuge in Britain not because we gave out generous benefits to applicants, but because this country offered a better chance of a fair hearing than many others. Those hostile to asylum-seekers can now relax: this incentive would seem to be a thing of the past.
Chairman, Walking With in North Tyneside
St Luke’s Church
Wallsend NE28 6RN