Cases & Deals

Christian Palestinian client advocating on behalf of children wins U.S. asylum

Clients Palestinian applicant for U.S. asylum

Jones Day represented Mr. Y, a Palestinian who had worked for the benefit of Palestinian children and had written and spoken widely on children's rights and development. This led to conflicts with Islamic authorities when he publicly opposed the use of children as suicide bombers in the recent Palestinian Intifada (the uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza). For his outspoken views he was severely beaten by masked men aligned with one of the Islamic militias, which supported the suicide bombings. The beating sent him to the hospital with a broken leg.

He later came to the United States on a business trip, and while waiting at a bus stop in North Chicago he met two women who, that afternoon, converted him from Islam to Christianity. His conversion made him an apostate from Islam, which under Islamic law applied in Palestine can be a capital offense.

At a January 12 hearing Immigration Judge Robert Vinikoor heard testimony from the Mr. Y's pastor and was hearing testimony from Mr. Y when he abruptly stopped the hearing and granted asylum. Judge Vinikoor found that Mr. Y's conversion was genuine and that, given the religious and political situation in Palestine, Mr. Y's beating by Islamic militiamen, and Mr. Y's prominence in the community, Mr. Y had a well-founded fear of persecution if he returned. The government has waived any appeal.

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