Proposed restrictions in Sweden threaten Christian asylum seekers with deportation


Northern Europe


Christian refugee from Ethiopia reading her Bible. Photo AFP, Yasuyoshi Chiba

Christian asylum seekers may be shut out of Sweden if the Sweden Democrats party (SD) does not shift its stance.

As part of its “zero-asylum immigration” policies, the right-leaning and third-largest political party proposed a series of measures that might lead to deporting asylum seekers who converted to Christianity in Sweden, according to online Swedish publications Dagen and The Local.

With an election coming this week, immigration has taken center stage in the country, as many believe that the current policies are not doing their job in preventing terrorism. What’s more, an investigation by the party indicated that laws in Sweden were “above the most restrictive levels allowed by the EU,” said its leader, Jimmie Åkesson, in The Local.

As a solution, adding restrictions for asylum seekers once they have settled into the country might be an answer to the problem, since many can “create reasons for asylum along the way”, as reported by party representatives in Dagen. They went on to add that the new measures would not only affect Christian converts, but also those who entered same-sex relationships after leaving their home country.

“These cases are very difficult to decide, and are surrounded by a lot of controversy,” party representatives said in the article regarding the Christian converts and LGBTQ asylum seekers.

Those on the opposing side have also made the justification that if the proposed policies go through, lives may be endangered, especially if they are deported to countries that “do not tolerate apostasy from Islam” as reported in Dagen.

While it may seem that protections are already present, some have fallen through the cracks.

Five years ago, CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) reported the story of Iranian actress, Aideeen Strandsson, who came to Sweden on a work visa in 2014 but later converted to Christianity after a dream about Jesus. After applying as an asylum seeker on the basis that her home country, Iran, may threaten her with prison, rape, or death, Sweden’s Migration Agency rejected her case and threatened her with deportation. She was offered asylum in other countries, but could not leave, because Sweden withheld her passport.

Currently, Sweden’s migration board website (Migrationsverket), says that a person can receive “subsidiary protection” as an asylum seeker if a person is vulnerable to being “sentenced to death or will be “subjected to torture or other inhumane treatment” in their home country.

After years of legal hoops, the Agency granted her “refugee status and “residency” in the country, according to an updated CBN report in 2019.

As for now, only time will tell if the Sweden Democrats will fulfill their campaign promises. If they do, it may be up to the churches, not the government to add special protections for recent Christian converts.

“This work is really a matter of course for every Christian congregation: to extend a hand to a fellow human being who needs help; to show hospitality to the stranger. It is a consequence of our Christian faith to help people in need regardless of religion or skin color,” Archbishop Antje Jackelén said in a [press statement]



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