The contradictions between the West’s mercy and self-loathing collided so violently that it produced what may be a first: an alleged “Christian” suicide bomber.
On November 14, Emad Al Swealmeen hailed a taxi to the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, where the explosive device he carried detonated earlier than he intended. It is not known whether the 32-year-old Iraqi national intended to blow up the hospital or the nearby Liverpool Cathedral, which was holding a service for Remembrance Day, the UK version of Memorial Day. He knew the latter building intimately; he had been confirmed there in 2017. He lost his asylum case in 2014 and an appeal in 2015, but he took a five-week Alpha Course, changed his name to Enzo Almeni. and was baptized in the Church of England.
His attack came just a month after a British court turned down an appeal from another unlikely convert, Khairi Saadallah. The 25-year-old Muslim, who fought in the Libyan revolution that turned the nation into a haven for Islamist terrorists, publicly “converted” to Catholicism after arriving in the UK. Yet, witnesses say he shouted, “Allahu akbar” and “Allah accept my jihad”as he stabbed three British men to death last June. “I’m going to paradise for the jihad, what I did to them,” he said, according to police.
Not all perpetrators commit murder. A 32-year-old man who came to the UK illegally from Iran raped a 17-year-old girl in 2012. Although the judge said he believed the man’s putative conversion to Christianity was an immigration ploy, he allowed the man to stay in the UK, because Iran punishes “apostates” from Islam with the death penalty.
These three criminal cases brought a spotlight to the unseemly scandal of Muslim asylum seekers pretending to convert to the Christian faith with the hope that it will halt their deportation. As newly professed “Christians,” these illegal immigrants would face persecution if the government returned them to their home country. “Once you are a baptised Christian it is really not conceivable that you would be deported to a Muslim country,” quipped Rev. Peter Wilcox, who was then the dean of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, in 2016.
Critics call the cynical strategy “pray to stay.”
The power of false conversion with the UK’s Home Office is so powerful that Arabic-language ads placed by human smugglers on social media encourage Muslims to convert to Christianity upon arrival. It appears that many Muslim migrants have taken them up on the offer.
“I can’t think of a single example of somebody who already had British citizenship converting here with us from Islam to Christianity,” said Rev. Wilcox. He added that some 200 Muslims from Iran alone converted to Christianity inside his parish between 2012 and 2016. His fellow Liverpool clergyman, Rev Mohammad Eghtedarian (himself a convert from Islam), said flatly, “There are many people abusing the system.” Other churches saw similar numbers. The vicar of a church in Stockton-on-Tees told the media that he baptized 100 Iranians from 2012 to 2016 but not a single British citizen between June 2015 and June 2016.
The sudden “revival” among Muslims facing deportation has raised eyebrows that they are using the church to manipulate the state. A British tribunal ruled in 2017, “The number of Iranians attending the [Liverpool] cathedral was ‘improbably large’ for them all to be genuine converts.” Wilcox also seemed cognizant of the consequences of turning down a refugee as opposed to a native-born “middle-class” British citizen. “Refuse Jemima baptism, and she goes to school somewhere else. Refuse Mohammed baptism, and he gets deported,” he said.
Their newly adopted creed does not figure into every immigration debate; authorities say it did not affect Al Swealmeen’s case. But his case raised the question of whether the UK immigration system is facing systemic abuse by false conversion.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who oversees immigration, has described the current asylum process as “a complete merry-go-round,” which “has been exploited, quite frankly, by a whole” publicly funded, “professional legal services industry that has based itself on rights of appeal, going to the courts day in, day out at the expense of the taxpayers through legal aid.” Records show that, in some cases, Church of England officials asked officials not to deport their “new” members.
The Church of England, in turn, said that it has instructed its clerics to test the catechumen’s faith as thoroughly as possible, but it can do no more. “We are not aware of any evidence to suggest a widespread correlation between conversion to Christianity, or any other faith, and abuse of the asylum system,” the CoE replied. “It is not the role of clergy to establish the legitimacy of asylum claims and to assess security implications.”
Some have questioned the role played by the fundamentalist Islamic interpretation of the concept of taqiyya, which “may involve disguising or suppressing one’s religious identity,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. “Oaths taken with mental reservation, for example, are justified on the basis that God accepts what one believes inwardly.” Islamic extremists have apparently coopted a program intended to aid the very vulnerable Christians their fellow radicals persecuted in their home countries.
Others cite the baptismal jihad as an example of the West’s self-hating ideology infecting religious institutions. The former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, who recently converted to Roman Catholicism, noted that the Church of England is “permeated by activists who each have a single-issue,” such as “cultural correctness,” ”multi-culturalism (which actually encourages communities to live separately) or critical theory on race.”
Woke church officials — and, alas, such persons exist — may well hanker to help refugees stay in the UK for their own ideological reasons. But the magnet of asylum-driven false conversions was created by the throne, not the altar. There is little evidence Great Britain’s churches have done anything to attract Muslims to convert to Christianity (nor, indeed, anyone else). The state incentivized false conversions by refusing to enforce immigration law, even when it relates to a hotbed of terrorism, and even when the judge believes the conversion was demonstrably disingenuous. Since the state created the crisis, it is up to the state to remove the incentive. While clergy should not be naïve about the possibility of ulterior motives, not even the best priest, pastor, or vicar can determine the sincerity or falsehood of their newly baptized member’s putative post-arrival conversion.
The state must alter and amend its immigration policies so that Christian churches can perform their vocations to baptize Muslim converts with confidence. Part of that training must be to highlight the persecution of Christians around the world and stand in solidarity with them. Clergy must also teach their flock that persecution is a sign of Christians’ union with their Lord (John 15:20) and that martyrdom carries the highest heavenly reward (Revelation 12:11). As the early Christian apologist, Tertullian wrote, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
But does the average British MP have enough faith in his own country to defend it from hostile forces adulterating its historic faith in order to kill its people? One can only pray.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.