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archbishop of canterbury

  • The better part of valour?


    What chance of the Archbishop of Canterbury's support as pressure mounts on the Home Office to save 19-year-old gay Iranian Mehdi Kazemi from execution? At first the Home Office refused to re-consider his deportation, scheduled once the teenager is returned from hiding in Holland later this week.

    Like around 4,000 gay Iranians executed by the Ayotollahs since they came to power in 1979, Kazemi faces death by hanging if he is returned to his country. There is no logic to the Home Office line that gay Iranians are safe as long as they are 'discreet' and that having once refused to grant him asylum, his case cannot be re-heard unless new facts emerge.

    Kazemi claimed asylum in 2005 after his lover was executed in Tehran. After his asylum application was refused he fled to Holland where a court has decided he must be returned to Britain. He is currently on 'suicide watch'.

    An appeal has been launched through the European Court of Human rights and more than 60 leading peers, including the Bishop of Liverpool, have signed a letter to the Home Office in his support.

    In a moving statement to the Home Office he writes:

    "The Iranian authorities have found out that I am a homosexual and they are looking for me. I can not stop my attraction towards men. This is something that I will have to live with the rest of my life. I was born like with feeling and can not change this fact... If I return to Iran I will be arrested and executed like Parham."

    Will the Archbishop of Canterbury join them? Still bruised by his worthwhile contribution to the debate about Sharia, an urgent intervention by him would seem to be more than timely.

    After this post was written the Home Office announced that after campaigning by his MP, Mehdi Kazemi had been granted five year's 'leave to remain' in the UK.