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Churches have been “blighted” by the asylum application of Clapham attacker Abdul Ezedi, a Christian organization says.

Churches have been “discredited” after a Tyneside church supported the asylum application of Clapham chemical attacker Abdul Ezedi, a leading Christian organization has said.

Christian Concern has publicly supported the cases of other asylum seekers who have converted to Christianity, but told Sky News that churches need to take stricter action to ensure conversions are genuine.

Someone who converts should “renounce their previous beliefs” and “acknowledge that Jesus is the only God,” it said.

Ezedi was baptized at Grange Road Baptist Church, Jarrow on June 24, 2018. His claim to have converted to Christianity formed the basis for a second asylum application he made in 2019.

Like the first, this was rejected, but he was finally granted asylum by an appeal judge in November 2020 because a retired vicar from Grange Road provided “compelling” evidence.

Part of Abdul Ezedi's Questionnaire on Christianity. Image: Judicial Tribunals
Part of Ezedi’s questionnaire on Christianity. Image: Judicial Tribunals

However, in an interview with an Interior Ministry official, Ezedi could only name four of Jesus’ twelve disciples.

And he was granted asylum despite being convicted of sexual assault and sexual harassment in January 2018.

Handwritten notes from the appeal hearing barely mention his convictions.

When asked about something that happened to a “colleague at a fast food restaurant in South Shields”, Ezedi replied: “I was present there, I wasn’t working. An incident has occurred.” The notes continue: “No re-examination.”

The 35-year-old from Afghanistan attacked a mother and her two children with a lye in south London in January. His body was later found in the River Thames.

Image: Judicial Tribunals
Ezedi distributes Christian leaflets. Image: Judicial Tribunals

“Not a real convert”

Tim Dieppe, head of public policy at Christian Concern, said: “It does not add to the risk to a church’s reputation if a priest supports someone who clearly was not a genuine convert.”

“I think that something like this has unfortunately brought the church into disrepute because it has been shown that the church has helped some people whose asylum application is not justified.”

Churches need to “exercise more caution,” Mr. Dieppe said, suggesting that “someone who has converted should renounce their former faith” when baptized.

He added: “You should say something like: ‘I renounce Islam, I renounce Mohammed. He is not a prophet. I accept that Jesus is the only God’.”

“And that would be harder for someone who is a false convert to say publicly.”

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The risk that genuine converts will not be believed has increased, Dieppe said.

“It’s already difficult. I know from experience that some genuine converts are trying to get asylum and I think that will make it a little more difficult and make the system even more biased to not believe people about conversions.”

Abdul Shokoor Ezedi was last seen on Caledonian Road. Image: Police hit
Ezedi pictured after the chemical attack in January. Image: Police hit

Read more:
The “traumatizing” search for bodies in the Thames
Two “unexpected” bodies have been found in the search for the Clapham suspect

Baptists Together, the organization that represents the church Ezedi is said to be a member of, told Sky News: “Baptist churches in the UK and around the world have always and will always take an attitude of welcome and compassion towards those who come before War and persecution.”, famine and the consequences of climate change, regardless of the intention to convert to Christianity.

“Whenever anyone, asylum seeker or not, explores the Christian faith in a Baptist church, care is taken to ensure that those who wish to profess the Christian faith understand the deep commitment they are making, and in particular the need to to turn away from wrongdoing and follow Christ in his love.”

Additional reporting by Nick Stylianou, Communities producer.

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