Sunday, 27 January 2013

Yemeni faces death for converting to Christianity  

Ex-diplomat loses last-minute bid to avoid deportation to Yemen, where me might be killed for converting to Christianity  Source: OttawaCitizen, BY HUGH ADAMI,28/01/2013  Abdul-wahab Zabeba is on his way back to the Islamic state of Yemen, where he faces the possibility of persecution or even death for converting to Christianity three years ago.

 An eleventh-hour appeal to the Federal Court to grant him stay of removal was dismissed Friday afternoon as Zabeba, 55, and his son, Mahir, 20, waited anxiously at the Ottawa airport for word that they might avoid deportation, at least for the time being.

 His lawyer, Karima Karmali, who took over his case last week, applied for a temporary stay of removal so the matter could be reviewed. The application was based on new evidence showing Zabeba would be in extreme danger in Yemen after word of the former diplomat’s conversion spread through the country.

A translated Toronto newspaper report about Zabeba’s case appeared on various Yemeni online news sites in recent months. Father and son were scheduled to fly from Ottawa to Montreal Friday night, and then board a plane for Qatar. They were to arrive in Yemen Sunday. Though Mahir remains a Muslim and isn’t thought to be in any danger, Zabeba fears he could be killed as soon as their plane touches down in Sanaa, the capital.

Apostasy is considered a crime in Yemen, punishable by death, though immigration officials believe the country no longer practises that law. Noomane Raboudi, a University of Ottawa professor and Middle East expert, told the Citizen last week that Zabeba would likely be killed for converting “to the religion of the enemy.” Rev. Fred Demaray, the Baptist pastor who baptized Zabeba in February 2010, has written Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. He wants Canada to make sure that Yemeni authorities monitor Zabeba’s safety. Zabeba also believes he is in trouble with his country for leaving his diplomatic post at the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, D.C., in 2008, to come to Canada. He sought refugee status for political persecution shortly after arriving at the Detroit-Windsor border crossing. That was denied by the Immigration and Refugee Board on Sept. 1., 2009. The board did not believe he was in any danger. Zabeba began attending services at First Baptist Church at Somerset and Elgin streets around the same time, and was baptized about five months later. In the summer of 2010, he was given a pre-removal risk assessment to determine if he faced any dangers in Yemen. The risk assessment officer did not believe Zabeba faced any serious trouble either, despite his recent conversion. The Federal Court eventually ordered another assessment, but Zabeba was rejected again. The Federal Court also allowed Zabeba to apply for judicial review, but his application was turned down last summer. Zabeba and his son slept at First Baptist Church Thursday night.


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