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Asylum Based on Religion, Court Case

There are many reasons why a foreign national in the United States may apply for asylum. One of those may be based on a fear of persecution because of the applicant's religion. Below is the story of Mr. Boctor who applied for asylum and what he had to face not only in his home country of Egypt, but also once he was in the United States.

Mr. Boctor was a Christian and a citizen of Egypt. While living in Egypt, he befriended a male and female married Christian couple. The female, originally a Muslim, converted to Christianity when she married her husband.

Soon after, the Christian couple faced threats of violence from Muslim extremist. The Christian couple went to the police to report the threats, however the police refused to help. Because of the fear for their lives, the Christian couple went into hiding, with only Mr. Boctor knowing their whereabouts.

When the Muslim extremist could not find the Christian couple, they turned their attention to Mr. Boctor. The Muslim Extremist threatened Mr. Boctor with death if he did not reveal the location of the Christian couple. He refused to reveal the location of the Christian couple and was beaten and attacked by the Extremist. During the attacks, he was called many names because of his Christianity; names such as Infidel and Atheist. The attackers even tore off the crucifix he wore around his neck.

Finally, the attacks became so severe that Mr. Boctor was forced to move in with his uncle. Eventually, the Muslim Extremist tracked down Mr. Boctor and continued their attacks on him. On one occasion they broke into his uncle's house and attacked him.

Mr. Boctor did not report the attacks because the Extremist told him that they would kill him if he reported them. He also did not trust the police since they did not help his Christian friends when they initially sought help.

Fearing that the attacks would escalate and that soon the attackers would kill him, Mr. Boctor left Egypt for the United States. While in the United States, Mr. Boctor applied for Asylum based on a fear of being persecuted because of his religion. Initially, Mr. Boctor's asylum application was denied for the following reasons:

The Immigration Judge originally concluded that all the harm that Mr. Boctor faced was not because of his identification as a practicing Christian, but because he refused to reveal the location of his Christian couple friends. The Immigration Judge concluded that the harm that Mr. Boctor faced was not because of his Christian beliefs, but because of the knowledge he had regarding the Christian couple. Finally, the Immigration Judge found that it was not unreasonable to have Mr. Boctor relocate to a different part of Egypt where he would be safe.

After being denied asylum, Mr. Boctor appealed the sentence. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the Immigration judge. The Appeals court found that the reason for Mr. Boctor's persecution was linked directly to his identification as a Christian male. They also found that it was an error on the part of the Immigration Judge to assume that the persecution faced by Mr. Boctor was only because of his association to the Christian couple. Finally, the Appeals Court held that the Immigration Judge ignored the fact that Christians in Egypt report acts of violence to the local police who often time ignore their pleas for help.

The case was remanded to the BIA for further proceedings.

Boctor v. Gonzales, (7th Cir. Jan. 24, 2007)

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