Last June, I blogged about the staggering difficulty that some Muslim converts to Christianity have in seeking asylum in the United States.
But here's some good news on that front: Hussein Wario, who came to Christ from a Muslim background, informed me today that recent court action will grant him a new hearing on his asylum application; and, that he is no longer in immediate danger of being deported back to Kenya.
Earlier today, he emailed me a press statement saying:
A year ago the Associated Press broke the news federal court of appeals had declined to overturn a lower court's decision to deny Hussein Wario—the author of Cracks in the Crescent—asylum and refused to reverse the order to send him back to Kenya where he fears persecution. He learned of the court's decision from the media. Since then, Wario filed a motion pro se to reopen his asylum case with the Board of Immigration Appeals and it has been granted.
The decision in part reads: Considering the totality of circumstances presented in the respondent's motion, which has not been opposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the proceedings are reopened under the provisions of 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(a), and the record will be remanded to the Immigration Judge to provide the respondent a further opportunity to establish his eligibility for relief from removal…
FURTHER ORDER (sic): The record is remanded to the Immigration Judge for further proceedings not inconsistent with this order and for the entry of a new decision.
The motion showed new evidence of change in country conditions in Kenya. Wario cited cases of severe persecutions of Muslim converts to Christianity with at least one of them killed since Wario's petition was denied in 2006.
Part of the background to such cases is the new reality that more people with a Muslim background are deciding to follow Christ – especially from Muslim-majority nations or countries that have a strong Islamic tradition.
By some estimates, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity in Africa each year. Hard to believe. But watch this Youtube video.
The decision of these individuals places them at great personal risk. Hussein (writing in the third person) emails more about his own story:
This has been a long and arduous process for Wario and his wife. The order to reopen his asylum case is their first real good news regarding immigration in almost 9 years. If you think only those in the US illegally or undocumented immigrants have problems, think again. Wario filed for asylum in August 2002 while he was still in legal status, but his application was denied and was not referred to the Immigration Court for adjudication. A veteran immigration attorney and law professor told him the asylum office normally decides even before an interview which asylum application to deny. Since Wario's interview was only for 45 minutes, it met that criterion. He applied again and the asylum office told him to petition the Immigration Court.
The Judge found Wario's testimony credible but denied him asylum because US State Department Country Reports on Kenya did not show any persecution of Muslim apostates. Sadly, US Embassy in Nairobi uses Kenyan mainstream media reports to compile Kenya Country Report and there are reasons the issue of persecution had been silent. Wario has dealt with every request or order the government has made and appealed every adverse decision according to the law.
In the case of a Muslim convert who was killed in February 2010, the Kenyan police determined his murder was a robbery, even disregarding death threats he had reported to them. There is no known media report in Kenya of his gruesome murder, let alone a report revealing his killing was on the account of his apostasy.
Wario is in contact with other Muslim apostates in Kenya. Some of them receive death threats on regular basis. The police have been of little help. The Kenyan media has turned a deaf ear to their plights as well. The closest to a news report is in the US State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2010:
Local Christian organizations reported that individuals who converted to Christianity from Islam, particularly individuals of Somali ethnic origin, were often threatened with violence or death by Muslim religious leaders and their families. These threats prompted some individuals to go into hiding.
Inquiries were made to the Kenyan media regarding the lack of coverage of religious persecution. A Kenyan reporter said there was news blackout because the Kenyan "media policies are very strict, especially when it comes to reports on religion." He even averred how the East African Standard offices were burnt down in the mid 1990s because the newspaper published an article on Islam written by a Muslim scholar. An Ismaili Muslim organization is the principal shareholder of the Daily Nation, a Kenyan newspaper with a wide circulation. It is possible Muslim persecution of apostates gets no coverage in the paper.
Wario is grateful for the Board's decision granting him options for immigration relief. The order for him to leave the United States is off the table. He will have a new hearing to determine his eligibility for a new immigration status. He thanks all who have been praying for him and his wife, Rita.