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A Christian convert and former imam must be deported back to Iraq, a Swedish court has decided. His deportation may mean imprisonment upon arrival to his homeland.

By James Heiser    

4/8/2011 Sweden (The New American) – A former imam who converted to Christianity is facing extradition from Sweden to his native Iraq, where he may face imprisonment or death for his “apostasy” from Islam. According to an article at (translated by Google):

A former imam, who lives in Karlskoga and who converted to Christianity must be deported to Iraq, the Administrative Court of Appeal has decided.

Bengt Sjoberg, local politician from Filipstad and heavily involved in refugee issues, said that the former Imam [had] been baptized in the Baptist church in Karlskoga and openly share[d] [his] faith with others. “This is absolutely horrible. This is a genuine conversion and many of us can testify that there is a man who lives as a Christian.”

Given the latitude which has been shown by Western nations for generations in extending protection to individuals claiming sanctuary from the tyranny which would confront them at home, the decision of Swedish authorities to deport a man whose conversion would make him a target seems reckless. The bloody persecution which has been inflicted on the Church in Iraq in the past few years has driven much of the Christian remnant out of the country; even the homes of Christians in Baghdad were subjected to Jihadist attacks this past Christmas.

According to an entry (“Mänskliga rättigheter, asylsökande och dop/Human rights, asylum seekers and baptism”) on Mr. Sjoberg’s website, the Church of Sweden is making the situation worse for converts because it is urging that those foreigners who become believers in Christianity should not be baptized, if there is a possibility they could be deported. As Mr. Sjoberg writes (again, via Google translation):

Certainly one of the most basic rights recognized in the West is the freedom of conscience in matters of religion. While Islamic nations threaten to execute those who “blaspheme” Islam, and Jihadists murder the only Christian in the Pakistani government, the moral obligation of Western nations is to protect immigrants from such nations as would imprison or murder them for their religious beliefs, as we once offered a measure of protection to those who fled from the Communist nations.

Such converts from Islam have a great deal to teach Christians in the West through their willingness to suffer for what they believe. As Sjoberg observes, “We never baptize someone who has not received proper training and if you come from a Muslim background you may be given a long time to think about the risks it entails to become a Christian and be baptized, [as you] may be deported to a country where capital punishment [is inflicted] on any converts. If you still stand fast in the desire to fully become a Christian, we can not deny anyone to make this powerful spiritual experience.”

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