Friday, August 31, 2007

Political Asylum Being Sought By Christians From Muslim Middle East

Petitions for asylum in the United States by Christians from Middle Eastern countries who fear persecution if they return seem to be a growing issue. Three cases have recently been in the news. WorldNetDaily reported yesterday on the campaign being organized to prevent the deportation of Onsy and Fadia Zachary, an elderly Christian couple from Egypt who have been in the United States since 1998. Supporters say that Onsy Zachary escaped from Egypt in 1970 after being imprisoned and tortured for refusing to convert to Islam. His ability to stay in the U.S. is complicated by an assault conviction here, for which he is now completing a jail term. The couple fears imprisonment and torture if they are returned to Egypt.

On Thursday, according to the AP, a Pennsylvania federal court heard arguments in the long-running legal battle by Sameh Khouzam to avoid deportation back to Egypt. The Coptic Christian says he fled Egypt eight years ago to avoid religious persecution. His lawyers say Egyptian authorities arrested, beat and sodomized him when he refused to convert to Islam. Egypt, however, says Khouzam is a convicted murderer. U.S. officials have obtained assurances from Egypt that Khouzam will be treated humanely when he returns, but Khouzam's lawyers say that such assurances are meaningless.

In Harlingen, Texas, an Iraqi Christian who illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico in 2006 has been granted political asylum by an immigration judge, according to an AP report yesterday. Amar Bahnan Boles-- who was arrested as he swam the Rio Grande-- told the judge that he faces physical brutality if he is deported to Iraq.