(CN) – The 1st Circuit refused to extend political asylum to an Algerian immigrant who said “Muslim extremists” burned down his father’s store. The intruders were likely motivated by greed, not politics, the court said, adding that “fanaticism and a love of money are not mutually exclusive.”
Fatah Amouri argued that he was entitled to stay in the United States, even though he entered illegally, because he faced political persecution in Algeria.
He claimed that three or four armed men, who identified themselves as Muslim extremists, entered his father’s clothing store and demanded cash. He allegedly offered to pay them at a later date and then called police when they left. The building was later torched, and Amouri said he received a letter from the Islamic Army Group charging that he had turned his back on his religion and had been “sentenced … to death.”
He said he fled to the United States when he heard the armed men were looking for him.
The Boston-based appeals court upheld the immigration judge and Board of Immigration Appeals’ denial of political asylum, saying Amouri failed to offer any evidence that the alleged extortion and threats were tied to his political opinion.
“The mere fact that the extortionists were associated with an extremist group does not compel a different conclusion,” Judge Selya wrote. “After all, fanaticism and a love of money are not mutually exclusive.”