A young Pakistani man whom we provided free translation support to recently informed us that his asylum application was approved! Yahya, whose name we’ve changed, had to leave Pakistan due to religious persecution. Yahya comes from a longstanding Christian family and grew up in a traditionally Christian neighborhood. His passionate involvement with the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan and his work making religious videos for other churches and congregations began to draw the attention of certain individuals who accused him of propagating anti-Islamic views. These individuals, including an imam affiliated with a non-mainstream Islamic organization, filed two complaints against him with the police. The complaint was accompanied by a fatwa, a religious legal opinion, issued by a member of the same organization. In it, the religious legal scholar accused Yahya of being a member of an anti-Islam organization and of publicly expressing views disrespectful to the Prophet. The fatwa recommended Yahya be executed in public.
For reasons unclear, the police issued a warrant for his arrest. Up until that point, Yahya had been in good standing with the authorities. He had even obtained a certificate of good character from the police a few years earlier for a visa application to travel to Europe. He also received a glowing letter of recommendation from the Minister for National Harmony, who also served as a special advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan at the time. That is all to say, the view that his activities as a member of the Christian minority were anti-Islamic was not universally accepted. However, it only took the efforts of a few individuals to cast him as a persona non grata.
Yayha took the death threats made against him and his family very seriously and decided to leave Pakistan. He ended up in France, where he applied for asylum. It was at the beginning of this process that he reached out to us to have his documents translated into French. We translated the fatwa against him and the two police reports, which he used to prove to the court that he was being persecuted for his religious beliefs. We also translated several letters of recommendation and the certificate of good character from the police. France evaluated this evidence and approved his asylum application. This year Yahya gets to spend Christmas in peace and safety.
This asylum success story would not be possible without your support. Translation plays a crucial role in asylum applications because it is the only way by which an asylum seeker can convey their experiences accurately to a court or immigration officer. Without access to translation, a person’s application cannot be processed, or their case may be rejected – oftentimes with life or death consequences. So thank you again.
Right now, during this season of giving, all donations to the Refugee Translation Project are being doubled, thanks to the matching funds provided by a very generous donor! This a wonderful opportunity to make your donation go twice as far.
We wish you a peaceful and healthy holiday.