Christian asylum claims under scrutiny after Clapham attack

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

Asylum applications based on claims of conversion to Christianity are facing fresh scrutiny after an acid attack on a woman and her two children in London's Clapham South area. 

The suspect in the attack was identified by police as Abdul Ezedi, an Afghan refugee who arrived illegally in the UK in 2016 and was convicted of sexual assault in Newcastle in 2018. 

A nationwide manhunt is underway to catch Ezedi after he fled the scene of Wednesday's attack.

It emerged this week that the 35 year old was allowed to stay in the UK after claiming he had converted to Christianity and that his life would be in danger if he returned to Afghanistan. 

His conversion claim is reported to have been vouched for by a vicar, leading to fresh criticism of the Church of England. 

The Church came under pressure in 2021 after an attempted terror attack in Liverpool. The suspect, who was the only death in the attack, was 32 year old Emad Al Swealmeen who had also claimed to be a convert to Christianity before his asylum bid was rejected.

At the time, Sam Ashworth-Hayes, of the counter-extremist Henry Jackson Society, accused the Church of England of being "hopelessly na├»ve". 

After Wednesday's attack, he said that "nothing appears to have been done" about migrants "using 'conversion' to Christianity as a backdoor route to staying in the UK". 

Priest and broadcaster Calvin Robinson said that Ezedi "must be deported" and "the Church of England must be held to account". 

A spokesman for the Church of England said on Friday that it was the job of the Home Office, not the Church, to weigh up the merits of asylum claims.

"This is clearly a shocking and distressing incident, and our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by it," he said. 

"It is the role of the Home Office, and not the Church, to vet asylum seekers and judge the merits of their individual cases."