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ICC Note:
The story of a Palestinian convert to Christianity, the persecution he’s faced in his homeland, and how a church in the U.S. is trying to help.
By Mariana Silva
12/25/2011 Palestinian territories ( – If given a choice, Abdala Yusef would either stay in the U.S. or go back to Palestine. However, neither are possible if he wants to practice his faith and be with his family at the same time.
Abdala, a Palestinian Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2006, fled to the U.S. five years ago after being threatened by people in his village over his religion. Recently, he was denied religious asylum by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
He said he was told his country allows residents to practice any faith of their choice, which is true in theory, although not exactly in the small village where he lived with his family.
“It started with just a conversation with some friends and talking about Christ,” Abdala said. “After that the problems started. I started getting phone calls from people I never met. Some of the people told me they would cut my tongue if I talked [about my new faith]. They scared my family. [The persecutors] asked me to stay home and not to leave the house until they were not looking for me.
“If I left home, I would get in trouble,” Abdala said. “That meant if I left home, they would kill me. To kill people over there is very easy. It is not a big deal, it is not something dangerous or something hard.”
He said he had to stay home for three months after that.
One day when he decided to take the children to a small town to shop, he was stopped by men wearing masks. When they asked Abdala to walk with them, he knew what was about to happen.
Luckily, as he was taken away from his vehicle, an Army corps officer drove by and scared the masked men away.
“Right then I knew I was in trouble,” Abdala said. “I knew people would go after me and they would kill me, so I decided to leave the country.” And that meant leaving his wife and six children in Palestine, too.

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