The Clapham attack: a “wake-up call”?

Every aspect of the Abdul Ezedi case is “shocking”, said The Times

Ezedi, a migrant from Afghanistan, arrived in Britain illegally in a lorry in 2016. In 2018, he was given a suspended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court for sexual assault and exposure. He was then twice refused asylum, but on his third attempt, after an apparent conversion to Christianity, he was given permanent leave to remain. 

Last week, Ezedi drove from Newcastle to Clapham, in London, to find a woman with whom he was acquainted. Witnesses allege that he threw a corrosive substance into her face; her injuries are said to be “life-changing”. Bystanders who tried to intervene were also injured, as were the woman’s two young daughters: he allegedly took one from a car, and twice smashed her onto the ground. Ezedi then fled and was last seen near Blackfriars, bearing facial injuries from the substance. Police have suggested that he may now be dead, but there are many questions that must still be answered: the Home Office must “explain why he remained in Britain after his conviction”.

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‘The consequences of our human rights laws’

This should be a wake-up call, said Nick Timothy in The Daily Telegraph. “There is no better case study in the weakness of our criminal justice system, the absurdity of our immigration courts, the consequences of our human rights laws” – and the failure of our institutions to protect the public. Our asylum system is utterly broken, and it is exploited by people who despise our values. 

In particular, the Church of England must take note, said Melanie Phillips in The Times. Fake conversions are now common among asylum seekers. They are used to “game the system”: the courts are unwilling to deport Christians to nations where they may be persecuted, and a good word from a priest helps with the application. Nearly one in seven of the 300 migrants on the ‘Bibby Stockholm’ barge are now reportedly converting.

‘Spurious political purposes’

Predictably, this horrific attack has been exploited for “spurious political purposes”, said The Independent. Clearly, Ezedi’s case has been terribly mishandled. But “most refugees, it hardly needs stating, are not violent offenders”, bent on awful crimes. 

The notion that someone may be shepherded through the system by their church is “simply inaccurate”, said the Rt Rev Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani in The Daily Telegraph. It is the role of the Home Office to assess and vet claims; the official guidance specifically states that evidence from “a senior church member is not determinative”. Though clergy may support such claims, it is certainly no “magic ticket”.

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