ICC Note: A Kurdish church leader living in France had to flee to the UK after receiving multiple death threats for his conversion to Christianity. While living in the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais, the pastor was approached multiple times and threatened by fellow asylum seekers. He finally left after one encounter in which an extremely dangerous man approached him and shamed him for his faith. The pastor left Kurdistan originally because of his conversion to Christianity.
11/02/2016 France (WWM): A Kurdish church leader smuggled to Britain says he received death threats – for having left Islam for Christianity – while living in makeshift camps in northern France.
The church leader, who did not wish to be identified, spent nine months living in camps outside the French cities of Calais and Dunkirk. He told World Watch Monitor that Kurdish Muslims in both camps antagonised him.
“In Calais, the smugglers [saw] my cross [round my neck], and said: ‘You are Kurdish and you are a Christian? Shame on you,’” he recalled. “I said, ‘Why? I’m in Europe, I’m free, I’m in a free country.’ They said, ‘No, you are not free, you are in the Jungle. The Jungle has Kurdish rule here – leave this camp.’ The smugglers were from inside the camp, and were Kurdish. They said to me, ‘We will tell the Algerians and Moroccans to kill you.’”
The church leader, who taught art in his home in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as helping to lead a church there, said he received further threats in the camp outside Dunkirk. “They [set] fire [to] my tent,” he said.
He said he moved from the so-called “Jungle” camp in Calais to the Grande-Synthe camp near Dunkirk after one of the people-smugglers told him, “You’re a Kurdish pastor? I’ve heard about you.”
“He was really dangerous, like a gangster. I was really scared,” he added.
A convert to Christianity from a devout Muslim family, he left Kurdistan after receiving death threats. He said he was arrested and beaten by police for preaching in the streets, and twice received letters warning him that he would be killed if he did not return to Islam.