01/11/2007, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA - EGYPT
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Korean Court rules Egyptian Christian convert is a refugee

The Court has ruled Ibrahim deserves refugee status because, if he returned to Egypt, he is "unlikely to receive governmental protection against persecution by Islamic group who threaten him."

Seoul (AsiaNews) - A Korean court has given refugee status to an Egyptian man who said he was persecuted at home after converting to Christianity, a court official said yesterday.

The 40-year-old man, identified only by his surname Ibrahim, fled Islam-dominated Egypt in 2005 after a group of Egyptians physically harassed him and demanded that he revert to his former beliefs, this according to the official of the Administrative Court, who was not identified.

Upon entering Korea, the man asked South Korean government for refugee status, but the Ministry of Justice denied his request, citing a "lack of integrity in testimony," the official said.

The Court has ruled Ibrahim deserves refugee status because, if he returned to Egypt, he is "unlikely to receive governmental protection against similar persecution by the Islamic group."

The court said the plaintiff is believed to have given discordant testimony because he was under heavy stress from fleeing his country at the time the ministry was questioning him.

South Korea joined the United Nations refugee treaty in 1992. Since then, more than 1,000 foreigners have sought asylum here for reasons of racial, religious and state persecution at home, but less than a tenth of them have received permission to stay, according to government data released last year.

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