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Swedish Migration Agency criticized for grilling asylum seekers on their faith

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Swedish Migration Agency criticized for grilling asylum seekers on their faith
Migrationsverket, the Swedish Migration Agency. Photo: TT
13:17 CEST+02:00
Sweden's Migration Agency has been criticized for the way in which it tests religious asylum seekers on their knowledge of Christianity.

The questions were posed to asylum seekers who had converted to Christianity and were seeking asylum on the grounds of religious persecution.

Asylum seekers were quizzed on technical aspects of the Christian faith, such as the number of parts to the New Testament and the difference between the Orthodox and Protestant Churches.

Both lawyers and church representatives have criticized the practice, which they argue tests technical knowledge rather than a person's faith. The responses given to the questions could affect whether applicants are granted asylum or not.

"I think it's terrible. I have repeatedly had to interrupt administrators who ask these questions because they are not relevant and are far too complicated," lawyer Serpil Güngör told SVT.

Güngör said that he advises his clients to study the Bible carefully before their interview - while some Swedish parishes have begun preparing handbooks of facts aimed at asylum seekers in order to assist them.

However, the Migration Agency defended the nature of the interviews, and pointed out that they only form part of the overall assessment.

The agency also takes into account factors such as the applicant's explanation for why they converted to Christianity and how they exercise their faith.

"It is a reasonable demand that the asylum applicant should show some knowledge of the Bible - this should come naturally, and isn't something you need to study," Carl Bexelius, Deputy Legal Director at the Swedish Migration Agency, told SVT.

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