Swedish immigration officials have been deporting Iraqi refugees to Baghdad on flights about every three weeks, declaring that some of them have no legitimate claim to political asylum in Sweden. That includes Iraqi Christians – a category that does not automatically imply a risk of persecution, according to Swedish guidelines. Of the 80,000 or so Iraqi refugees in Sweden, about 6,000 of them are Christian, according to estimates by the Syriac Orthodox Church in Stockhold. That Swedish interpretation of the main criterion for refugee status under U.N. treaties has spread widespread panic among refugees. “There are hundreds of Iraqis here who are not legal who have simply disappeared,” says an Iraqi engineer in Stockholm, a Catholic, who fled Baghdad in 2004 with his family after Islamic militants ordered them to leave their home, or be killed. “The refugees are hiding in churches or basements, working illegal jobs, trying to survive, transferring from place to place.”
I find that amazing and dreadful. Christians in Iraq are being slaughtered and their lives are under constant threat, and Sweden is sending them back? That’s – potentially – a death sentence.
Sweden has long been known as a tremendously welcoming place. I wonder what changed.
Tagged: Syriac Orthodox Church