Coptic Christian Family Wins Asylum Appeal

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The 9th Circuit allowed an Egyptian man to pursue U.S. asylum for his family after an immigration judge showed “singular insensitivity” to his alleged rape and persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists.

     Soliman Fahim Farid Morgan claimed that he, his wife and two children were targeted for their Coptic Christian religious beliefs, an ancient system followed by 9 percent of their largely Muslim nation. Islamic fundamentalists allegedly set Morgan’s store on fire, taxed him at exorbitant rates, beat and gang-raped him while a police officer looked on, and kidnapped his wife and children and gang-raped her in front of them.
     After detecting discrepancies in their story, an immigration judge stated that Morgan had “severe credibility problems” and refused to evaluate Morgan’s asylum eligibility. The judge also denied the children the chance to testify.
     The appellate court determined that the inconsistencies, such as how many times Morgan and his wife talked on the phone during her kidnapping and how long he was shot at on a drive to the hospital, were “minor” and did “not go to the heart” of Morgan’s claims of past persecution.” Moreover, the judge ignored Morgan’s consistent statements on certain issues and failed to accept his explanations for discrepancies.
     The Board of Immigration Appeals erred by embracing the judge’s credibility determination and rejecting psychological reports on the wife and children that showed evidence elements of post-traumatic stress disorder from their kidnapping, the ruling states.
     The circuit panel rejected the immigration judge’s credibility determination, as he took on the role of investigator or prosecutor and failed to maintain neutrality.
     The three-judge panel reversed the adverse credibility finding and granted the family’s petitions, remanding the cases for determination as to whether Morgan is eligible for asylum, withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture.
     Judge Noonan also asked why the government lost Morgan’s record, which was not seen by the attorney who argued the case before the circuit court.

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