Posts tagged ‘Kenya’

June 8th, 2011

Answered Prayers: End of My Asylum Case Imminent

I am very grateful to all who prayed for my wife and I the past year. My asylum case has been reopened, which means I will not be leaving the United States in order to pursue other legal US immigration status.

A year ago the Associated Press broke the news that the federal court of appeals had declined to overturn a lower court’s decision to deny me asylum and refused to reverse the order to send me back to Kenya, where I had suffered persecution for converting to Christianity. I learned of the court’s decision from the media. Since then, I filed a motion to reopen my asylum case with the Board of Immigration Appeals and it has been granted (AP story). The decision in part reads:

Considering the totality of circumstances presented in the respondent’s motion, which has not been opposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the proceedings are reopened under the provisions of 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(a), and the record will be remanded to the Immigration Judge to provide the respondent a further opportunity to establish his eligibility for relief from removal…

FURTHER ORDER (sic): The record is remanded to the Immigration Judge for further proceedings not inconsistent with this order and for the entry of a new decision.

The motion, which you can find HERE, showed new evidence of change in country conditions in Kenya. I cited sworn statements of cases of severe persecutions of Muslim converts to Christianity with at least one of them killed since my petition was denied in 2006.

This has been a long and arduous process for my wife and I. The order to reopen my asylum case is our first real good news regarding immigration in almost 9 years. If you think only those who overstay their visas or undocumented immigrants run into manifestations of broken US immigration laws, think again. I filed for asylum in August 2002 while I was still in legal status, but my application was denied and was not referred to the Immigration Court for adjudication. My asylum interview was only 45 minutes long. A veteran immigration attorney and law professor told me afterward the asylum office normally decides even before an interview which asylum application to deny. Since my interview was short, it met that criterion. I reapplied and the asylum office told me to petition the Immigration Court. Here is an excerpt of a message I received from my attorney about my subsequent application:

I have some disturbing news for you.  I just received back from the Chicago Asylum Office your application for asylum. In the cover letter from the Immigration Service, I am told that, because your previous application was denied by the Asylum Office, that you must make your request for asylum to the Immigration Court.

This makes no sense and does not comport with the Immigration Service’s own rules.It is also not consistent with other cases: for example, I just filed an application for a young man from Ivory Coast who is in your same procedural situation and his interview at the Asylum Office is next week.

My question for you is this:  given that you would likely be denied again by the Asylum Office (it is very rare that the Asylum Office will grant asylum on a second application if the first application was already denied) and sent to the Immigration Court, do you wish to make your request to the Immigration Court directly?  Where you make your application makes very little difference but, in terms of timing, if you skip the step of going to the Asylum Office interview, you could have a hearing in the Immigration Court in late-summer or early-fall while, if you go through the Asylum Office, you will not have a hearing in the Immigration Court until late-fall. Either way is fine for me but I want you to make the decision because the timing may affect other plans you have. [Emphasis mine.]

I filed my third application with the Court and had a hearing in 2006!

The Judge found my testimony credible but denied my asylum petition because US State Department Country Reports on Kenya did not show any persecution of Muslim apostates in Kenya. Sadly, US Embassy in Nairobi mostly relies on Kenyan mainstream media to compile Kenya Country Report and there are reasons discussed below they have been silent on issues of religious persecution. I have complied with every request or order of the US government and appealed every adverse decision in accordance with established US immigration laws.

In the case of a Muslim convert who was killed in February 2010, the Kenyan police determined his murder was a robbery, even disregarding death threats he had reported to them. There is no known media report in Kenya of his gruesome murder, let alone a report revealing his killing was on the account of his apostasy.

I am in contact with other Muslim apostates in Kenya. Some of them receive death threats on regular basis. The police have been of little help. The Kenyan media has turned a deaf ear to their plights as well. The closest to a news report is in the US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report 2010:

Local Christian organizations reported that individuals who converted to Christianity from Islam, particularly individuals of Somali ethnic origin, were often threatened with violence or death by Muslim religious leaders and their families. These threats prompted some individuals to go into hiding.

I have made inquiries to the Kenyan media regarding the lack of coverage of religious persecution. A Kenyan reporter said there was news blackout because the Kenyan “media policies are very strict, especially when it comes to reports on religion.” He even averred how the East African Standard offices were burnt down in the mid 1990s because the newspaper published an article on Islam written by a Muslim scholar. An Ismaili Muslim organization is the principal shareholder of the Daily Nation, a Kenyan newspaper with a wide circulation. Perhaps that explains why Muslim persecution of apostates got no coverage in the paper.

I am grateful for the Board’s decision granting me options for immigration relief. The order for me to leave the United States has been vacated and I will have a new hearing to determine my new immigration status.

Going through the asylum process has been very hard for me. Thoughts of whether I have been trying to “save” my life have lingered. Jesus said, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”[1] Am I putting my trust in the United States’ government to save me from persecution that God has apportioned for me? I have sometimes wondered why I have been going through this arduous process with everything seeming to work against me but now I am very thankful for this good news. The end is imminent.


[1] Luke 17:33, NIV.

December 17th, 2010

Christian Outreach to Muslims this Christmas

It was the week before Christmas 1988. One of my former teachers, Mr. Buya, invited me to go to his home for Christmas. Even though I was a Muslim and did not celebrate Christmas, I traveled to his village. I still believe he had invited me with intent not to proselytize me.

Mr. Buya is a Christian from the Pokomo tribe—a “Christian” tribe, which has had dueling feuds with my Orma tribe for a few hundred years. (The Ormas were considered 100 percent Muslim.) They always fought over land and River Tana access. Though the Kenyan government has never admitted it, these clashes were due to these tribes’ religious differences. Even today Ormas and Pokomos share mutual fear and mistrust. Their feuds have claimed scores of lives. Read BBC reports here and here.

Mr. Buya was not teaching in a Muslim village by choice. The Kenyan government’s Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) posted him there. TSC posts and transfers teachers around the country without any input from them. You probably are wondering, considering the possible danger to Mr. Buya, why he was posted to teach at my village. The sad truth is there was no Orma who was qualified to be a primary school teacher at that time because early Muslim “missionaries” told my tribe it was wrong to get secular education. After all, they argued, secular education was for ilmu dunia, knowledge of the world. Instead, they insisted Orma children should attend madrassa where they gained ilmu akhirat, the knowledge of the hereafter.

Many other Kenyan Muslims also enrolled their children only in Islamic religious schools until the government mandated secular education. Even today most Kenyan Muslims in predominantly Muslim areas don’t take secular education seriously. The Kenya National Examination Council examination results don’t lie. I only was enrolled in a secular school because of the government mandate. I attended both madrassa and the secular school for five years until I graduated from the former.

Visiting Mr. Buya’s family for Christmas changed my perception of the Pokomos and Christians. They showed tremendous respect for my beliefs and even asked me to slaughter a goat they had bought for Christmas since as a Muslim I could not have eaten the meat had one of them slaughtered it. Their character was also different from Muslim leaders’ portrayal of Christians. All the negative stereotypes I had heard of the Pokomos and Christians were gone with one visit. I am grateful for that Christmas invite because it marked the beginning of a change in my life. If you would like to hear the rest of the story (my testimony), please listen to it here.

Hospitality: Christmas is almost here. There are many Muslims who wouldn’t decline our invitation to show hospitality. They might decline our invitation to attend a worship service but I doubt they would refuse to come for a meal. The Bible says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Millions of Muslims live in Christian majority countries now and do not even know who Christians actually are. Muslims are here to stay. They are our neighbors, doctors, classmates or even taxi drivers. Most of what they know about Jesus, Christianity and Christians is from the Qur’an and the Hadith and what their Muslim leaders tell them. Most of them view Christians as very evil people who believe in three gods—father, mother and son. Do you know this is the most heinous sin in Islam? What is wrong with us opening our homes to Muslims? They can benefit from a little hospitality, which might end up positively changing their lives for eternity.

Most colleges and universities in the United States have Christmas break starting this week. Campus residencies will be closed except to international students. This is can be an opportunity to show hospitality.

Reach out: Opportunities to serve Muslims are endless. A lady recently shared with me about her experience. She was always curious about her Muslim neighbors. The Muslim wife and her daughters rarely ventured out of their home. One day, this Christian woman decided to deliver some baked goods to the Muslim family. Within hours, the Muslim family reciprocated with some baked goods of its own. These two families have now become friends. Some Muslim women are not allowed to leave their homes without the company of their husbands or male relatives or their permission. Women are the least reached among Muslims. Christian women can do outreach to them with ease.

Host family: Many Muslim international students come from countries which are “closed” to Christian outreach. Why don’t we offer to show these students around town or take them out to eat or shopping for school supplies, invite them over for meals or even offer to be their host parents? Do you know colleges look for potential host parents for their international students?

Literature: Give copies of the Bible in native languages if they are available. Most Muslims have not seen the Bible, let alone read one in their own language. You can find the Bible in various languages online. Please tell them where to start reading. I remember very well when I received my first copy and no one told me where to start and I started with Genesis.

Respect: Mr. Buya and his family respected my beliefs. We don’t get very far in our outreach to Muslims if we don’t respect their beliefs. If they ask questions, answer them gently from the Bible. We should always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have and we should do it with “gentleness and respect.”

I am very grateful Mr. Buya invited me to his home for Christmas in 1988. Had the Ormas not fallen to the ruse of Muslim missionaries who secretly took their children to secular boarding schools, Mr. Buya probably would not have become a teacher in my village. God had a plan. He even used these missionaries’ egregious act for his good. Please, take a step this Christmas and show hospitality to a Muslim or any unbeliever. You never know! The Ormas were considered 100 percent Muslim, now they are only 99.98 percent Muslim. Praise God!

Hussein Wario is a former Kenyan Sunni Muslim. He is the author of Cracks in the Crescent. He blogs regularly. You can listen to his testimony here.