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Call for immigration policy change for Converts

Gordon Copeland Press Release
For Immediate Release
Monday, 7th April 2008

Copeland call for immigration policy change for Christian converts

Independent MP Gordon Copeland today revealed that he has written to the Minister of Immigration, Clayton Cosgrove, seeking a change in policy in relation to Islamic asylum seekers or refugees who convert to Christianity.

“In three recent cases which I have had some involvement in, Ali Panah, Mehdi Shiraseb, and Bahareh Moradi, the Refugee Status Appeals Authority (RSAA) has ruled against granting refugee status,” said Mr Copeland.

“In all cases, according to the information provided to me, this decision has been based on the view of the RSAA that the conversion to Christianity is not genuine. This outcome simply does not make sense. In every case the individuals involved have been supported by their pastors who have given first hand evidence concerning the genuineness of their conversion to Christianity.”

“Simply stated, that evidence should be accepted. It is hard to imagine for example that evidence given by an oncologist to say that a person has cancer would be disregarded in judicial proceedings by those without that expertise!”

“Conversion from Islam to Christianity is a similar case. It is subjective and invisible. It relies on the individual’s personal testimony, backed up and affirmed by an “expert” in these matters; namely a pastor, a priest, or equivalent.”

Mr Copeland explained that this matter has taken on added significance following the decision by the Government of Iran, in February this year, to formerly mandate the death penalty for apostates from Islam.

“Other factors may be involved but the central issue of whether or not conversion to Christianity is or is not genuine, must become the critical factor when a decision is being made about deporting a person to Iran.”

“This is now a matter of life and death for the individuals concerned. A policy directive to the RSAA by the Minister could greatly assist this situation.”


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