In a landmark victory, ex-Muslims who converted to Christianity and fled to the United Kingdom in fear for their lives were told Monday they did not have to return home.
A UK immigration court of appeals gave persecuted Christian converts seeking asylum permission to stay in the country. The decision marks the first-ever ruling in favor of Christians seeking asylum in the United Kingdom.
"This is a significant and groundbreaking decision that clearly puts the focus on the fact that many converts to Christianity from Islam face real danger including the ultimate penalty of death," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the European and American Centers for Law and Justice, who represented the couple.
The case involved a Syrian couple who had fled to the U.K. after facing religious persecution in their country. The husband converted to Christianity in 2003, and his wife two years later. The two soon began sharing their faith to Muslims online.
As in other Islamic countries, sharia law, which bans conversion, is enforced in Syria. Converting from Islam is often punishble by death. The couple, whose identities were not revealed, fled for their lives after receiving death threats, even from their own family.
The case could open doors for thousands of other Muslim converts seeking asylum in the UK.
"This important decision will not go unnoticed in the international arena and we're delighted that it provides protection for Christian converts who are at great risk because of their faith and their desire to share it," Sekulow said.
Six members of the U.S. Congress agreed that the two faced danger if they returned to Syria, the husband's native country. Representatives Robert Aderholt, Todd Akin, Tom Feeney, Trent Franks, Jim Jordan and Joe Pitts all signed a letter to the European appeals court stressing the "credible threat" and "severe religious persecution" the couple would endure.