Acid suspect did not receive Catholic asylum help, diocese says

2 mins read
UK sex offender attack
Abdul Ezedi, a 35-year-old Afghan, suspected of throwing a corrosive alkaline substance over a mother and her two children in London Jan. 31, 2024, is seen on screenshot from a video provided by the London's Metropolitan Police force. It shows the attacker with a facial injury in a Tesco store shortly after he carried out the attack. (OSV News photo/courtesy London Metropolitan Police)

(OSV News) — The Catholic Church has strenuously denied helping a convicted sex offender to gain asylum in the United Kingdom where he allegedly went on to throw a chemical substance over a woman and her two children.

Abdul Ezedi, a 35-year-old Afghan, is suspected of throwing a corrosive substance over the three in London Jan. 31.

The 31-year-old woman suffered such “life-changing” injuries to her face that she is being kept under sedation in hospital. Her two daughters, ages 8 and 3, are being treated for burns, while Ezedi also injured his own face in the attack.

In the following days, the Catholic Church was accused in the media of assisting Ezedi to stay in the U.K. when it was rumored that “a priest” provided him with a reference.

A minister’s reference

A government source told the Daily Mail Feb. 6, however, the reference was in fact provided by a Baptist minister who presides over a chapel in a part of the city where Ezedi lived.

“The one that really made a difference was from the Baptist Church,” a government source said. “One personal written submission talked of knowing Ezedi for four years, he had been attending church and they thought he was a genuine convert.”

The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, where Ezedi lived, had earlier emphatically denied assisting him beyond the provision of toiletries and food tokens through its Justice and Peace Refugee Project in Newcastle’s city center.

A diocesan statement said: “After checking local parish records and central records and after consulting with clergy we have no indication that Abdul Ezedi was received into the Catholic faith in this diocese, or that a Catholic priest of this diocese gave him a reference.

“We do not know which Christian church received him nor which Christian minister gave him a reference,” said the Feb. 5 statement.

The diocese told OSV News it will assist the police investigations, adding, “We keep the victims in our prayers and hope that justice is done soon.”

No asylum help

The Justice and Peace Refugee Project gives support only in the form of food and toiletries to clients referred by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, another Catholic charity, it said.

“The project is not involved in any casework around asylum claims and therefore does not employ caseworkers. Nor does it seek to recruit converts to Christianity,” the diocese confirmed to OSV News.

Ezedi entered the U.K. illegally in a truck in 2016 and was refused asylum but not deported. He was later convicted of sexual assault and indecent exposure, but escaped jail with a two-year suspended sentence.

A second application for asylum also was rejected, even after he claimed that his life was in danger from the Taliban because he had allegedly become a Christian.

Again, he was not deported from the country and went on to make a third application for asylum in October 2020.

Faked conversion

Friends of the man have told The Telegraph daily newspaper that Ezedi faked his conversion to stay in the U.K. and that he remained a “good Muslim” who bought Halal lamb every two weeks. “Halal” is a dietary law derived from Islamic teachings, meaning “lawful or permitted.”

An evangelical church leader warned in The Telegraph interview Feb. 5 that priests need to be “wary of red flags” among some of those seeking to stay in Britain before conducting baptisms.

The police offered a reward of $25,000 for information leading to the arrest of Ezedi. Because he was affected by the acid he threw on the woman and her two children, Ezedi could die from his injuries if he does not seek immediate medical attention, the Metropolitan Police warned, as they put hospitals on high alert.

OSV News

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