- Jul 29, 2018
- Reaction score
We've discussed just how one proves such things as conversion to Christianity, or that one had become an atheist or that one is queer.
It is perhaps easier to prove conversion to Christianity (though some people are not overly demonstrative of their conversion). This case decided by the AAT, is NOT that of the Alsehli sisters, but it demonstrates what the Appeal Tribunal takes into account:
Here is the reference: 1604251 (Refugee)  AATA 4675 (11 July 2019)
- The Tribunal is satisfied that the conversion was genuine and that the applicant and her family practise Christianity because of the following in combination:
- The baptism certificates
- That the pastor attended the hearing to give evidence, and the evidence she gave as to the genuineness of the conversion including the applicant’s regular attendance at church
- The photos and text messages which were corroborating evidence
- That the applicant and her husband swore on the Bible and not the Koran
- The applicant has dispensed with the hijab
- The Tribunal found the evidence given by the applicant and her husband to be credible and was satisfied they were truthful when giving their evidence
- The applicant’s belief that there was a miracle
I skimmed the decision but could not see any reference to the applicants' having knowledge of Christian beliefs of tenets.
There seems to be an over reliance on demonstrative and preformative behaviours as necessary conditions (must have X for Y and without X you are not Y) rather than what they really are, as sufficient (if you have X then there are grounds to think you are Y).
I saw another case where the Tribunal did ask about Christian beliefs in order to determine the extent of the applicant's knowledge and, I suppose, infer from that the truthfulness of his claim to have converted: if he has converted, so the line of reasoning goes, he will have some knowledge of the tenets of Christianity.
It seems that if a person wants to claim they have converted then they need to do things that suggest they have, such as attending a Church, making contact with Christian people who can vouch for them, and text them; get a bible and ensure it is well-thumbed, familiarise themselves with the tenets of Christianity, and try to remember some particularly resonant passages from the NT, and also parables. And show signs of devotion.
Atheists have a much more difficult time of it, but i guess, you might familiarise your self with debates about the existence of God, such as the problem of evil; text messages, participation in atheist web fora, attending atheist events, if there are any. In both cases, signs of rejecting Islam, also count.
The applicant would also need to demonstrate knowledge of the fate that would befall them if they returned to Saudi Arabia.
A lawyer or advocate helping applicants would, I should think, be able to advice the applicants.
The issue I have not seen canvassed is the punishment and ill-treatment that awaits people, particularly women, who flee Saudi Arabia and other repressive totalitarian countries. The mere act of fleeing paints a target on you.
As I have said, it would be more difficult for me to discussed how people prove that they are gay; although per my personal opinion, realizing that a person is attracted to the same sex is not necessarily is followed by openly gay behavior. Let us talk about heterosexual people - most would realize they are attracted to the opposite sex around puberty for sure; but self-identifying as heterosexual does not mean that people immediately start sexual experimentations. Some start dating early, others start sexual life in college, or even later. Same with gay people, I assume. The problem with being gay in Saudi Arabia is different; not only are not people allowed to have gay life, but they are married off, via arranged marriages, and early. It is about unhappiness people have to endure because of societal expectations that go against their nature.
About atheists. It is also not black-and-white. The best study I read showed that among atheists and religious people alike, 3/4 have personally felt the presence of “God”, or “immanence”, or certain “transcendence”. Some will find and explore God, but even atheists belonging to these 3/4 might subscribe to some strong philosophy, akin to religion.
Now 1/4 of people who never personally had spiritual experience but consider themselves religious are very interesting. They are either potential deconversion material, and will leave the church, or they’d attend for community factor. In the atheist group, this 1/4 probably represents the staunchest, true, atheists, but often more accepting and less militant because they never needed to fight with themselves.
I was always thinking that ironically, this group might fail the atheist interview because they never need to join forums or Facebooks or explore the issue. They just never felt presence of God, but would the answer be enough for the interviewers?
To add to it, JMO, people coming from very religious countries, those who were indoctrinated in childhood (through fear), and then deconverted, might suffer from PTSD, as getting rid of religion means serious fight to overcome own fears. This PTSD might play against the person during the interview; some, I assume, might experience real flashbacks and not know what to say; the interviewer might interpret it as lying. JMO. This is why making one spit on any holy book or do, or say, something dramatic, might totally backfire.
So, for example, if Amaal felt gay but, at 23, decided to explore it slowly and not force events, is totally understandable. The fact that she was fleeing arranged marriage with a man, and the possibility of an arranged marriage, would have been a more important, traumatic thing in this context. As to Asra, merely listening to her story, when she first started doubting God, or what part of religion was the least palatable to her, could be enough.