The Liverpool bomber was a failed asylum seeker who tried to “game the system” by converting to Christianity, UK Home Office stated as per a news report. UK home secretary Priti Patel said that Emad Al Swealmeen exploited the “merry-go-round” of Britain’s “broken” asylum system by making repeated claims to stay in the country.
Al Swealmeen, 32, killed himself and injured a taxi driver on Sunday when he detonated an improvised explosive device outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital, just as a Remembrance Day Service was commemorating war dead at the nearby Liverpool Cathedral.
Al Swealmeen arrived in Britain in 2014 and sought asylum, saying he was from Syria. His claim was rejected by the UK Home Office the following year on the grounds that he was from Jordan. He sought asylum again in 2019, claiming his late grandfather’s “Syrian passport” had been found. But that too was rejected.
A UK Home Office source said that he came to the UK legally, adding that he attempted to use his conversion to Christianity in the asylum process, which was typical of the way Iranians and Iraqis in particular had attempted to “game the system”. Applicants who show they are committed Christians can argue that their new faith would put them at risk in their home country.
But Muslims are not choosing to convert to the Yezidi or Zoroastrian faith, which face even more persecution in Iraq and Iran respectively. Clearly, the Muslim asylum seekers believe that conversion to Christianity, especially Anglican Christianity, will improve their chances. And who can blame them? Christianity is UK’s official religion, with the Church of England (Anglican Church) being the state church of England. The British monarch is the Supreme Governor of the Church.
As per another report, Al Swealmeen was taken under the wing of a retired senior British army officer after visiting Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral and expressing an interest in converting from Islam to Christianity. He had been baptised in 2015 and confirmed in 2017 but the cathedral lost contact with him the following year.
A BBC report quotes a spokesperson for Liverpool Cathedral: “Liverpool Cathedral has developed robust processes for discerning whether someone might be expressing a genuine commitment to faith. These include requirements for regular attendance alongside taking part in a recognised Christian basics course. We would expect someone to be closely connected with the community for at least two years before we would consider supporting an application.”
The cathedral spokesman also said “welcoming people into a worshipping community” was one way it engaged with asylum seekers. A church worker in Liverpool said he believed Al Swealmeen was a “genuine Christian”, saying he had befriended him through a Christianity course run for asylum seekers. Both this statement indicate that immersion in Christianity is considered an integral way of assimilating asylum seekers.
The BBC report adds that many churches around the UK have large asylum seeker populations and some see high numbers converting from other faiths such as Islam to Christianity. Church groups say this is because many asylum seekers find support through Christian projects.
Lessons for Bharat
While the UK Church officials are claiming that there is no evidence being a member of the Church would fast-track an asylum claim, the fact that Christianity is UK’s official state religion makes it clear that the country’s government and institutions would have far more empathy and acceptance towards fellow Christians. And to be fair, despite this pro-Christian tilt, UK does provide reasonable freedom to practitioners of other religions within ambit of their laws.
It is only India where the idea of ‘secularism’ has become so distorted that we are loathe to officially recognize and privilege Bharat’s Hindu and Dharmic majority. The Hindu-hating elite of our country have raged against a humanitarian law like CAA which provides some succor to impoverished and suffering Hindu refugees. But they bat for settlement of illegal Rohingya immigrants in Bharat, who ideally should be taken in by rich Islamic nations.
Interestingly, many Rohingya and Afghan Muslim refugees living in Bharat are also ‘converting‘ to Christianity to take advantage of the CAA law. That they are choosing to convert into Christianity and not Hindu Dharma, even if their conversion is bogus, shows how Hindus have been reduced to second-class citizens in their homeland.