Islamists are making a mockery of our asylum system

Liverpool bomber Emad al-Swealmeen likely faked his conversion to Christianity in order to stay in the UK.

Rakib Ehsan

Rakib Ehsan

Topics Politics UK

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At the time of the terror blast in Liverpool last November, the perpetrator, 32-year-old Iraqi-born Emad al-Swealmeen, presented himself as a Christian convert.

How sincere this conversion from Islam really was has now been laid bare. At an inquest into al-Swealmeen’s death at Liverpool and Wirral Coroner’s Court last week, senior coroner André Rebello said that ‘both a Holy Koran and prayer mat were present’ when al-Swealmeen’s flat was searched. ‘It was fairly evident that he carried out the religious duties of someone who is a follower of Islam, notwithstanding the reported conversion to Christianity’, concluded Rebello. It has also been reported separately that al-Swealmeen attended an unnamed Liverpool mosque on a frequent basis during Ramadan last year. All of this points towards an insincere religious conversion designed to bolster al-Swealmeen’s long-standing asylum claim.

Some have been voicing reservations over suspected ‘fake’ conversions to Christianity for a while. As far back as 2016, senior Church of England clerics were warning that Muslim asylum seekers were rushing to convert to Christianity so as to block their deportation from the UK to their country of origin. Muslim asylum seekers would tell the Home Office that their ‘new’ faith meant they would be deemed apostates in their home countries, and thus risked torture and death if sent back.

Speaking in 2016, Reverend Pete Wilcox, then the dean of Liverpool, claimed the cathedral had baptised about 200 asylum seekers over a period of four years. He said he could not think of a single example of somebody who already had British citizenship converting at the cathedral from Islam to Christianity.

This problem is not unique to the UK. Back in 2015, The Times reported a surge in conversions from Islam to Christianity in Germany among asylum seekers from Iran and Afghanistan. As in Britain, the scale of conversions prompted concerns in Germany that many were converting in an effort to enhance their chances of being granted asylum.

The case of Emad al-Swealmeen shows the serious problems that can arise from this exploitation of our failing asylum system. This was a man who was reportedly imprisoned in the Middle East for serious assault over a decade ago. He had already had an asylum claim rejected in 2014 – because officials believed he had lied about his provenance. Later that same year, al-Swealmeen was sectioned under the Mental Health Act for waving a ‘large’ knife in public. Yet, thanks in part to his insincere conversion to Christianity, he was able to remain in the UK and stay in asylum accomodation provided by the Home Office. And he was able to plot a terror attack and manufacture an explosive device made with ‘murderous intent’, as the coronor put it. This is a serious indictment of the manifold failings of our immigration and asylum system.

Acknowledging the problems with our current asylum system does not mean turning our back on those most in need. Britain can take pride in its rich history of offering refuge to some of the world’s most persecuted peoples. But a willingness to take in asylum seekers should not come at the expense of public safety.

We need serious reform to our asylum system. This means identifying the key weaknesses in the current system and understanding how these are exploited by bad actors. Tackling fake conversions to Christianity would be a good place to start.

Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. His book, Beyond Grievance, is available to pre-order on Amazon.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics UK


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