Archbishop of Canterbury tries to stop deportation of Iraqi Christian who escaped from ISIS

  • Written by:

Jardine Malado
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks during an event marking the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in Runymede, Britain June 15, 2015.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has made an appeal to stop the deportation of an Iraqi Christian who fled his home in Mosul when ISIS seized the city in August 2014.

Welby wrote a letter to the Home Office in support of the refugee who is seeking a new appeal after his bid for asylum claim was denied. The Iraqi has already had two appeals turned down and is now seeking permission for a third appeal. Earlier this month, he was told to report to the Home Office center every fortnight or risk being detained, The Guardian reported.

In his letter dated Sept. 28, the archbishop said that he had “been impressed with his positive attitude, integrity, and the quality of his work.”

“[The man] is clearly someone who wishes to contribute to society … He is someone who would be a great asset to the United Kingdom. I strongly endorse [his] desire to seek asylum in the UK,” he added.

Mark Poulson, Welby’s interfaith adviser, wrote a second letter to endorse the man’s appeal for asylum.

“We have been extremely impressed with his … willingness to spend time helping others whilst his own situation is so distressing,” Poulson wrote.

The asylum seeker, a Syriac Orthodox Christian who was a deacon of his church in Mosul, had met Welby while he was volunteering at the Lambeth Palace. He said that the archbishop had offered to write the letter.

He and his family were among the 100,000 Christians and Yazidis who fled to the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan after ISIS threatened to kill any non-Sunni who remained in Mosul or the surrounding Nineveh Plains.

The man, who came to Britain on a student visa, said that Christians could not return to Mosul despite the military victories against ISIS because the sympathy for the terror group and its intolerant ideology remained.

Judge Clive Lane, who dismissed the second appeal in October, upheld the previous ruling that the Iraqi would be able to join his family, “who appear to live in safety” in Irbil. Susan Liew, the asylum seeker’s solicitor, argued that it was “erroneous, perverse and irrational” to believe that he could be relocated to Kurdistan, as his family is still forced to live in a church basement, where they had stayed for a year.

“I feel safe in Britain. I can’t go back to Kurdistan, it’s a different government, it’s not our country. They don’t deal with us like people from the same place. It’s a different language,” the man told The Guardian.