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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Asylum Seeker Can’t Be Picky About His Location

BOSTON (CN) - Asylum seekers can't be picky about where they work, the 1st Circuit ruled in denying the asylum petition of an Egyptian Coptic Christian who claimed Muslim fundamentalists blocked him from running a business in his home city of Port Said.

Petitioner Abdou Abdel Malek claimed that Egyptian police took him in for allegedly kidnapping his sister and children. When he continued to maintain his innocence, he claimed officers stripped off his clothes, tied his hands and legs, hung him from a stick and beat him until he was unconscious. They then doused him with water and shocked him with electricity, he claimed.

Before seeking asylum in the United States, Malek briefly relocated to Cairo, where he faced no harassment from Muslim fundamentalists and the police. But Malek claimed that his only options were living in the United States or Port Said, where he held a valid license for an auto-parts business.

The appeals court expressed sympathy for the "considerable unpleasantness" that Coptic Egyptians traditionally face because of their beliefs, but said Malek relied almost exclusively on past persecution without showing that he would be persecuted if he moved to another part of Egypt. The fact that his business license is restricted to Port Said is irrelevant, because "there is no right under the asylum laws to engage in a particular business," the immigration judge had explained.

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