The British government’s idea of who is — and who is not — a legitimate asylum seeker becomes stranger by the month.
In November it was reported that the Pakistani Christian mother of five, Asia Bibi, was unlikely to be offered asylum by the British government due to concerns about “community” relations in the UK. What this means is that the UK government was worried that Muslims of Pakistani origin in Britain may object to the presence in the UK of a Christian woman who has spent most of the last decade on death row in Pakistan, before being officially declared innocent of a trumped-up charge of “blasphemy”.
Yet, as Asia Bibi – surely one of the people in the world most needful of asylum in a safe country – continues to fear for her life in her country of origin, Britain’s idea of who should be allowed to travel to the country (and stay) looks ever more perverse.
One person, for instance, who has had no trouble being in London is Dr Ataollah Mohajerani, Iran’s former Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Mohajerani is best known for his book-length defence of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against the British novelist Salman Rushdie. After the Khomeini’s call on the world’s Muslims to kill Rushdie for writing a novel, Mohajerani wrote a 250-page book, A Critique of the Conspiracy of The Satanic Verses, which justified the death-sentence. For more than a decade, however, apparently fallen out with part of the regime in Iran, Mohajerani has been living in Harrow, where he intermittently keeps up his campaign against Rushdie.
We have also seen time and again how extremist clerics such as the Pakistani clerics Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman and Hassan Haseen ur Rehman have been allowed to enter the UK despite their track records of supporting the murder of people merely suspected of having blasphemed against, or apostasised from, Islam. Nevertheless, while the UK government continues to allow clerics such as these to enter Britain, it develops an ever-growing banned list of people who are not Muslim but who have been critical of aspects of Islam. It is almost as though the UK government has decided that while extremist clerics can only rarely be banned, critics of such clerics can be banned with ease.