Grad Student Faces Deportation

Ad Feedback - RAMLE, Israel - The Israel Interior Ministry has ordered the deportation of a German graduate student for alleged proselytizing.

Barbara Ludwig, 32, a graduate student at Hebrew University who has lived in Israel for nearly 10 years, will be deported Friday.

Ludwig, who completed her undergraduate degree in philosophy here, is enrolled in the university's master's program in religious studies.

On April 28, immigration police arrived at her doorstep at 6:30 a.m., arrested her and took her to Ma'asiyahu Prison in Ramle, a city in central Israel.

The Interior Ministry says they're deporting Ludwig because of her residency status. But Ludwig's repeated efforts to arrange her residency status were denied by the Interior Ministry because of alleged missionary work.

"They may have seen me at some meetings of Messianic Jews," Ludwig said. "I go around with Jews, Christians and Messianics, and I read books on Christianity, but that's no reason to deport me," she said.

Ludwig is one an unknown number of Christians from abroad who are labeled missionaries by the Interior Ministry and denied the appropriate visas until the ministry has enough "evidence" to deport them.

"The above has been in Israel for five years illegally and that is the basis for the demand that she be deported," Interior spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said. "Ms. Ludwig has been asked a number of times to leave the country and arrange her status, but she preferred to ignore the Interior Ministry's requests and continued to break the law," Haddad claimed.

"In light of the above, we see no fault with the way the issue was handled so far," the Interior Ministry's spokeswoman said.

"On the contrary, we are surprised that the lady was a student at an official institution in the State of Israel while defined as an illegal resident," Haddad said.

Efforts by the legal department at Hebrew University to secure Ludwig's release to complete her master's degree were denied by the Custody Tribunal at Ma'asiyah Prison, which ordered her deportation within 30 days.

Ludwig's attorney described an Interior Ministry hearing on her case as a "humiliating religious interrogation," during which she was asked if she believed Jesus is the Messiah.

Source: Haaretz

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