Advocating on behalf of Christian Asylum Seekers

  • In NEWS
  • March 24, 2021
Advocating on behalf of Christian Asylum Seekers

An Update from the Finnish Evangelical Alliance


After learning about several cases of deportation of Christian asylum seekers to countries with a high persecution index, the Evangelical Alliance in Finland decided to make an appeal to the Finnish Immigration Office on behalf of Christian asylum seekers in Finland. In its appeal, the Evangelical Alliance accuses the Finnish authorities of not always respecting the principle of legal certainty in asylum procedures and lists shortcomings in asylum procedures.


One of the cases reported to EA Finland was that of Sardar, an Iranian Christian who was deported to Iran in August 2019. Sardar publicly appealed to the authorities, stating that if he were deported, he would be detained and face torture. Despite extensive coverage in the secular media, Sardar was deported and immediately arrested at the airport. The Finnish authorities justified the deportation by saying that Sardar was just an ordinary Christian and that only pastors and evangelists would face imprisonment and torture in Iran. Another Iranian Christian who was a student at a Finnish Bible school was deported only a few weeks later.


Other applicants were confronted with Muslim interpreters and examiners who relayed false information from interviews, as was the case with a young Afghan who was baptized in 2016. After a misinterpreted statement from him, the examiner and court declared that he had no knowledge of the Christian faith. All evidence of a translation error was rejected.


As Timo Keskitalo, former General Secretary of the Finnish EA, reports, “Finnish churches have been trying to follow up those members of their congregations who have been deported to the country of origin. Often, people just disappear, and it is impossible to know what happened.” Some churches receive reports of people trying to flee the country again, while others flee from village to village to save their lives or are detained.


In response to the appeal of the Evangelical Alliance in Finland, Anu Karppi of the Finnish Immigration Office states that they currently deal with 3200 open asylum cases and about 15% of them are based on conversion to the Christian faith. “The Evangelical Alliance estimates that about 10% of the Afghans and about 5% of the Iraqis in Finland have been baptized and are active church members”, says Timo Keskitalo. “This explains the high number of asylum cases based on conversion to Christian faith.” For the Evangelical Alliance of Finland, these numbers only underscore the urgency of taking action on this issue.


For more information, please read an interview with the Finnish Immigration Office (so fa only available in Finnish) published in the Christian Weekly Kirkko ja kaupunki on 15 February 2021 or contact the Evangelical Alliance of Finland directly:

Latest Posts

Receive the EEA newsletter!