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Muslim Refugees 'Pretending to be Coptic Christians' to Boost Asylum Chances in Australia

( [email protected] ) Jun 01, 2017 10:42 AM EDT
Muslim asylum seekers are "pretending to be Coptic Christians" so they can stay in Australia, the country's Immigration Minister has revealed.
Migrants line-up at a registration point after crossing the Macedonian-Greek border near Gevgelija, Macedonia, September 7, 2015.

Reuters/Stoyan Nenov

Muslim asylum seekers are "pretending to be Coptic Christians" so they can stay in Australia, the country's Immigration Minister has revealed.

Speaking to Sydney's radio station 2GB, Minister Peter Dutton there had been "instances" when asylum seekers' claims to be Christians had been found to be untrue. He made his comments when asked about concerns over a number of Coptic Christians facing deportation to Egypt next month.

"We're not going to send people back into harm's way, we don't do that," he explained. "But we just have some cases where we're concerned about where the court, for example, has found that the application is fraudulent."

He added, "We're not going to ... deport anyone until we can have another look at each of the cases but in some cases, we do have concerns about the legitimacy of the claims made."

The Australian government has come under fire after announcing it plans to deport eighty Coptic Christians because their asylum claims have failed. 

"Why is he forcibly sending back 20 Coptic families, asylum seekers, back to Egypt, when the whole world can see that Islamic State and their affiliates have made the Copts their primary target over the past 12 months," Federal Labor backbencher Peter Khalil said during a recent address to Congress.

"The Turnbull Government has callously cruelly turned a blind eye to the plight of Coptic Christians, worse they are forcing Coptic families that have come to Australia seeking protection back into harm's way," he added.

As reported by The Gospel Herald, ISIS earlier this year vowed to step up its attacks against Egypt's Coptic Christian minority, who account for about 10 percent of the 92 million population. Copts are the indigenous Christian population of Egypt, who date back to the first decades following the life of Jesus Christ.  

Last week, Islamic State militants killed 29 Christians in a bus attack south of Cairo, and in April, forty-six people were killed on Palm Sunday when suicide bombers targeted church services in the northern cities of Alexandria and Tanta. In February, the group claimed responsibility for an attack on a Cairo cathedral that killed 30 worshipers.  

This is not the first time Muslim refugees "converted" to Christianity to boost their chances of being given asylum.  

In January, two Muslim Syrians living in Lebanon told The Telegraph that they and their families converted to Christianity because they believed it gave them a better chance of gaining asylum in the West, and because they could more easily access aid from Christian charities.

Ibrahim Ali, told the outlet, "A lot of people are doing it to get to Europe, the US and Canada. While I plan to stay in Lebanon, I know hundreds who been baptized just to help their applications. They would do anything to have security for their family."

Alia al-Haji, who sought asylum in Canada with her husband and three children, told the paper, "The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) tells us it doesn't help your application to be Christian, but that's not our experience."

Pastor Said Deeb at the Church of God, where Mr Ali was baptized, said "scores" of Muslims come to him to be baptized every week.

"I have people begging me to help them become Christian," he admitted.  "They think it will help them claim asylum abroad. They say 'just baptize me, I will believe in whoever just to leave here'."

Tags : Muslim, refugee, asylum seeker, Australia, coptic christian, convert, baptize