Muslim brothers who say they found Christ at Hillsong denied asylum


Two Egyptian Muslims have been denied protection visas by Australia – because a tribunal has ruled their conversion to Christianity wasn't genuine.

The pair, who are brothers, arrived in Australia from Egypt in 2010 as students but then applied for the protection visas in 2013. They attended Hillsong, did a course called 'Discovering Christianity' and were even baptised. But in spite of these outward professions of faith, and claims they will be persecuted if they return to Egypt, they won't be granted protection by Australia.

Australia's strict immigration and asylum system has ruled that fear isn't justified. The Refugee Review Tribunal denied their applications so both brothers appealed to the Federal Circuit Court. One brother lost this appeal but the second is having his case reheard by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

This is because the second brother made the claim that he was at risk of being killed in Egypt for abandoning the Muslim faith. He said, "I was always naturally curious and had so many questions about Islam but what kept that from showing is that I knew [those] who question Islam can be prosecuted and treated as a converter or kicked out of Islam, and the punishment of that is getting hanged to death."

The names and ages of the brothers have been kept secret. Hillsong itself hasn't commented publicly on the case.

The Australian asylum system has been criticised for being too tough in the past – with new rules introduced last year which mean refugees only receive temporary status in the country. As well as people entering the country legally and then claiming asylum, people claiming asylum after arriving in boats have been a major issue – similarly to the issues facing Europe and the Middle East with the current refugee crisis.