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Being Christian Is A Death Sentence
America needs to give shelter to persecuted believers in Muslim lands
12/22/2011 Islam (The Washington Times)-Persecuted Christians are fleeing from the Middle East in increasing numbers. The United States should open its doors to them as a guaranteed safe haven.
America has long been a beacon of hope for the world’s refugees, and members of religious minorities in the Middle East are in increasing need of relief. They have never had things easy, facing both official and popular intolerance from the Muslim majorities among whom they live. But as the region becomes less stable, intolerance has turned to active persecution and violence.
The Christian population in Iraq is one of the most at risk. Around half of Iraqi Christians have fled the country since 2003, and those who remain expect growing challenges, given the U.S. military pullout. Christians have suffered periodic waves of violence, including bombings, assassinations and church burnings. When Iraq’s government said in 2010 it would issue a license to carry firearms to any Christian family that wanted one, it was simply acknowledging the reality that followers of the faith had to arm or die.

Pakistan’s 20 million Christians face a variety of threats, including forced conversion and attacks on churches and worshippers. The Pakistan Christian Congress has appealed to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to award them refugee status, but the U.N. so far has been reluctant to recognize there is a crisis. In Afghanistan, the situation is even worse. Kabul refuses to admit the existence of the few thousand Christians in the country. An Afghan Christian named Aman Ali was forced to flee to India with his family after he received numerous threats on his life. He applied for refugee status but was told by an official of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that his case didn’t fit its criteria. His is one of a large number of cases of UNHCR unwillingness to acknowledge that being a Christian is tantamount to being under a death sentence.
Christian refugees from Muslim-majority countries who can reach the United States should be given the same special status that asylum-seekers from communist countries were accorded during the Cold War. Precedent exists: The definition of a “refugee-escapee” in the 1957 Immigration and Nationality Act included not only those who had fled “from any Communist-dominated, or Communist-occupied area” but also those “from any country within the general area of the Middle East, and who cannot return to such area, or to such country, on account of race, religion or political opinion.” Christians and other religious minorities are increasingly unwelcome in the Muslim world; they should be given sanctuary in America.

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