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ICC NOTE: Please pray for these refugees whom may very likely be sent back to Egypt to face their government and great hardship.

Canada Refusing to Offer Asylum to Persecuted Christians

By Gudrun Schultz

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TORONTO , Ontario , March 21, 2006 ( – Canadian immigration frequently fails to recognize the claim of refugee status from Egyptian Coptic Christians, reported CTV news yesterday. In at least half the cases, claimants are sent back to Egypt to face increased persecution.

The 2005 Country Report on Human Rights from the U.S. State Department said Egypt is responsible for “numerous human rights abuses,” in particular against religious minorities. The report lists numerous cases of “religious discrimination” against Coptic Christians and says there is widespread “torture and abuse” in Egyptian prisons.

Christians who have made refugee claims in the west will almost certainly be imprisoned and possibly tortured if they are sent back to Egypt .

“Just being detained in a prison is probably intimidation enough,” said Paul Rowe, one of Canada ‘s top experts on Christians in the Middle East and political science professor at Trinity Western University .

Since 2000, the Immigration and Refugee Board’s records show that about half of the refugee claims of Egyptians were denied. The records don’t show how many of those were Christians. Currently there are approximately 20 Egyptian Christians facing deportation from Canada .

In one case, the claimant sought refugee status after being beaten, he says, by a group of Muslim men because of his religion. A Muslim member of the IRB heard his claim, and denied him refuge. His case was appealed and he will receive another hearing.

Christians in the Middle East frequently face persecution for their faith, from restrictions on their religious freedom to imprisonment, torture, and even death.

In Afghanistan today a man is on trial for his life for converting to Christianity from Islam. Under Sharia law, rejecting Islam may carry the punishment of death.

Abdul Rahman converted to the Christian faith 16 years ago, while working with a Christian aid organization helping refugees in Pakistan . His family, estranged in a custody battle over his two children, denounced him to the authorities, reported the BBC today. When arrested, he was carrying a bible.

This is thought to be the first time an Afghan Christian has been put on trial for his life because of his faith.

If he recants, he will be “forgiven,” said trial judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah.

“We will invite him again because the religion of Islam is one of tolerance. We will ask him if he has changed his mind. If so we will forgive him,” he told the BBC on Monday. If not, Mr. Rahman faces the possibility of death by execution.