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Wife Converts to Christianity: Family Face Death Threats & Deportation

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L-R Warda, Mother Safiya, Father Abdul and son Saif in father's lap

A former Muslim wife that converted to Christianity now faces deportation after receiving death threats from her family.

Please sign our petition calling for freedom for Safiya and her family click (here)

Safiya Ahmed Abdul Razzaq Wahed (41 yrs) first became interested in Christianity whilst training as a beautician, from her colleagues 21 years ago in Ajman, UAE.

She was still secretly reading the bible when she married her family friend, and car accessory shop owner, Wahed Abdul (45 yrs), in 2002.
 
Her husband threatened to divorce his wife after she divulged her conversion to him but changed his mind, for the sake of their daughter, Warda, (16 yrs) and son Saif, (3 yrs), despite demands and pressure from his family back home in Bangladesh. Mr. Wahed gradually became more tolerant of his wife practicing her new faith, even allowing her to attend church with their daughter over time.

The couple lived a relatively happy life despite receiving death threats from Safiya’s Pakistani family if she went back to Pakistan, until Mr. Wahed’s business partner and sponsor, refused to renew their business shop licence after learning of Safiya's conversion from Islam.

The situation soon became dangerous for the family after a row ensued between Mr. Wahed and the sponsor that almost turned violent when Mr. Wahed accused the sponsor of then withholding their 22,000 United Arab Emirates Dirhams ($6000) for their "right to work" licence deposit. 

Fearing trouble from police who tend to side with UAE nationals in disputed matters and the death sentence for apostasy under UAE law, the family escaped to Azerbaijan on a tourist visa but found their savings were running out just before their visa expired and sought the help of a local Pakistani Muslim friend, Ali Abbas (39).

Mr. Abbas advised the family that they would be allowed to stay in Azerbaijan if they invested $15,000 in a business that could only be registered to the authorities by him. Mr. Abbas proposed to first list the new business in his own name, as he had a business visa, and promised to transfer the ownership back to them at a later date. Mr. Abbas has since disappeared and is not returning Mr. Wahed's calls.

The family have since been refused visas from their countries of citizenship, Bangladesh and Pakistan and have also been refused asylum in Azerbaijan via the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and initially faced a demoralising deportation on 9th September, after having lived there for 15 months. Since then however, through the efforts of BPCA and other humanitarians an extension of one month has been given to the family giving them a real sense of hope:



However, there still exists a fear that the extension will not be long enough as the Canadian Sponsorship program does not reopen till December.  BACA is writing to both the UNHCR in Azerbaijan and the local migration services calling for a more sensible extension.

Safiya who attends the Baku INTERNATIONAL Fellowship and has now along with her daughter been baptised told us
“I know that Christianity is not easy life but still my faith is much stronger than these problems. My parents are dead, and my brothers and sisters are not with me but still I trust In Jesus.”


Safiya's baptism

BPCA is seeking to help the family migrate where Safiya and Warda can practice their faith and the family can live in peace. In a Tweet 16-year-old Warda says (sic)

“You know when my mom used to go at church when we were in Dubai.

“She used to tell me about things that happened to her like she felt Jesus Christ's touch she felt his existence that he is with her and she told me about miracles that happened in her life.


“And she started slowly telling me the verses of bible what she heard and day by day, I started taking interest in it then I went church with her, I felt the same Jesus Christ's touch, his existence. I often heard him calling my name I saw miracles happen. I love Jesus


“Now we also have problems in our life but we will not leave our faith because we never felt what we feel now and whenever we pray calling his name, Jesus Christ, we feel that He will do for us because He knows what's better for us because He saved us till now together.

“My mom says she doesn't need to give any evidence that she Christian and she is a believer of Jesus Christ because God knows her by heart and He knows her by name so people can't make my mom weak because she is a believer of God.

“This same goes from me as well.”



Warda's Baptism

Our goal is to get the family to any safe country and we have produced a country expert report that has been sent to both the Azerbaijan authorities and to the UNHCR in Azerbaijan.  Juliet Chowdhry, spokesperson for the BACA, said:

"We and other humanitarians have been pursuing a termination of the deportation process and were pleased to hear of the one-month extension.

This gives all the parties assisting this family time to galvanise support for the family and hopefully secure a Canadian sponsorship. 

An approach has been made to an experienced Sponsorship Agreement Holder SAH and with their help we hope to find a long term solution that provides the whole family with refuge together. "

Time is limited so we implore others to join our campaign that we might convince Azerbaijan authorities to halt deportation and for the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights UNHCR to assist this beleaguered family, as they seek a country where they can live in safety and practice their faith unfettered. 

Please sign our petition calling for freedom for Safiya and her family click (here)

We have also set up an appeal for the family to help with the costs for their sustenance whilst living in Azerbaijan with little or no support and to help with what we believe will eventually be an offer for asylum. If you would like to support the family please donate by clicking (here)

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