EU urged to help Pakistani Christian asylum seekers: BPCA Chief Wilson Chowdhry
London: September 2, 2015. (PCP) In two weeks’ time ministers and officials from three of the most powerful EU nations – Germany, France and Britain – will meet to discuss the huge refugee crisis engulfing Europe, with the intent to standardize procedures across the EU. Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) Wilson Chowdhry asserts it is an opportunity to raise broader issues about Christian asylum seekers from nations like Pakistan as well as those from war torn countries in the Middle East and Africa. ‘There is a problem with much direct and indirect discrimination against Christian refugees generally. The concerns we have over the hoops Christians seeking safety from Pakistan have to go through, and the blocks they encounter, are shared by groups working with Christians from other places of persecution, particularly in the Middle East. Muslim refugees can often get support by going to nearby Muslim nations, but for Christians, that move is often out of the frying pan and into the fire. Pakistani Christians, for instance can face blocks from their own fellow citizens or even some arms of the government, in part because too many getting out would reveal more of the horrific conditions and discrimination they endure. It’s a face-saving exercise, to try and avoid shame in the international community.’
He went on to challenge Western governments and cultural elites: ‘In the West we often have some kinds of affirmative action program which discriminate in a way in the name of equality, to help those seen to labour under particular disadvantages or discriminations or under-representation. We often hear people say that some kind of special focus or allowance for Christian refugees and asylum seekers from such places as Pakistan and the Middle East would be unfair, and against secular equality values, but the fact is that they are often in an even more vulnerable position than others, and face greater challenges in reaching safety. It is not unfair to give priority to groups that share our values, that are often arbitrarily blocked – for instance by the US State Department – from programs of refuge. To do so would be a win-win situation – Western nations get a class of genuine refugees who integrate better with our values, aiding community and cross-cultural cohesion and the particularly vulnerable Christian brothers and sisters get a better shot at reaching safety. Therefore we are calling on Christians everywhere to press for the issue of Christian refugees and asylum seekers to be raised at these meetings’.
He said that the BPCA is considering ways of helping Christians get this message out, including pre-written letters for politicians and others which explain the pragmatic security, economic and social benefits of such an approach.