One person was killed and another wounded when a homemade bomb exploded in a taxi outside a women’s hospital in Liverpool, England on Sunday. The person carrying the bomb, and the one fatality in the explosion, was identified as Emad Al Swealmeen, a Syrian-Iraqi refugee.
More remarkable is that Church of England officials have confirmed that Swealmeen had converted to Christianity. Bishop Cyril Ashton said he was “shocked and saddened by the attack,” and confirmed that Swealmeen was a member of the community at Liverpool Cathedral.
Ashton stressed that “Swealmeen was one of hundreds of cases I have dealt with as a bishop, so I don’t have any specific recollection of the individual.”
In regards to the conversion itself, the bishop added: “The Church takes the affirmation of faith very seriously and I know that he was fully prepared with an understanding of the Christian faith, and it seems, unfortunately, despite this basis, that the bomber chose a different path for his life.”
A spokesman for the cathedral reported : “Swealmeen was baptized in 2015 and his faith was confirmed in 2017, but lost contact with the cathedral in 2018.”
Emad Swealmeen was one of hundreds of immigrants from Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere who attended lessons and services at the cathedral, and were baptized and affirmed to the Christian faith.
In 2014, a special chapel was established for these converts, and by 2017 more than 330 Middle East refugee converts had been baptized there.
But are these conversions always genuine? Many Muslim migrants believe that converting to Christianity will help their asylum claims. Court records show that a number of Middle East migrants invoked fear of persecution in their home country following conversion to bolster their case.
Pastor Bashar Haddad, who has supervised hundreds of Muslim conversions to Christianity, told Israel Today: “There are large numbers of Iranians, Iraqis, Syrians and others who attend courses and services in churches, whether in the Middle East or other countries. This does not mean that every one of them is a genuine convert to Christianity. Some pretend to convert for the purpose of gaining asylum and other benefits.”
There are means of determining the sincerity of a conversion, and in many cases asylum is granted only after a former Muslim proves he or she genuinely follows the Christian faith.