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Relaxed rules for Christian asylum seekers from Iran

Dutch officials promise flexibility

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE – Dutch junior Justice minister Nebahat Albayrak has promised greater flexibility in reviewing asylum requests from Iranian Christians. This change in direction reduces the risk that asylum seekers will be sent back to Iran.

Albayrak’s decision in practical terms means that each asylum request from Iranian Christians will be reviewed individually. Under fire from the Second Chamber, Albayrak’s predecessor Rita Verdonk had imposed a moratorium on the Iranian file, which had recently expired. The individual assessment rule suggests that Iranian Christian asylum seekers belong to a group requiring special attention.

Iranians will be given a residency permit "if they encountered problems at home with authorities or fellow-citizens on account of their faith,” and are able to explain their situation in a credible manner. In principle, the same applies to Iranians who have converted to Christianity after arriving in the Netherlands but must have had ” problems in Iran for reasons other than their new religious convictions…”

Albayrak bases her decision on new analysis drawn up by the Dutch foreign affairs ministry, with input of the Dutch embassy in Teheran. Open profession of the Christian faith is permitted in Iran, according to Dutch officials. They acknowledge that Muslim converts to Christianity and those involved in such conversions do run risks in that country.