Amidst heart-wrenching news of migrants trying to seek refuge in European countries, asylum-seeking Muslims in Germany are apparently being baptized and converting to Christianity for one rumored reason: It will increase their chance of staying in the stable European country.
Mohammed Ali Zonoobi is one such Muslim. He bends his head as the priest pours water over his hair and says loudly in a prayer-like manner, “Will you break away from Islam?”.
Zonoobi gives the answer in the affirmative, elevating his hope to stay in Germany as he would be able to say after converting that he can’t go back to his homeland owing to discrimination. His first name is now Martin not Mohammed.
Zonoobi, a carpenter from Iran, arrived in Germany with his family around five months ago. He belongs to the many hundreds of mostly Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers who get converted to Christianity at the evangelical Trinity Church.
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Pastor Gottfried Martens has been converting these Muslim men and women for quite some time now. He agrees that many convert so that they can stay in Germany but he argues that only 10% of the new converts abandon the church by not attending the mass after christening.
"I know there are — again and again — people coming here because they have some kind of hope regarding their asylum," Martens said. "I am inviting them to join us because I know that whoever comes here will not be left unchanged."
Although becoming Christian does not help the ex-Muslims much, there is a slim chance that Germany would deport them to their native countries since they can get punished by death for apostasy.
Germany has been experiencing an unprecedented increase in asylum seekers this year, with migrants’ number reaching up to 800,000 now, an around fourfold increase on last year.
Most of the asylum-seekers come from Muslim countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Lately, almost 40% to 50% from Syria and Afghanistan have been allowed to stay in Germany, albeit temporarily.
Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees asserted that it did not influence on the reasons applicants make while applying for asylum, or they do not get accepted on the basis of their religion and persecution they might face if they return.
But, for Zonoobi and his wife Afsaneh the christening has actually marked a new beginning.
"Now we are free and can be ourselves," she said. "Most important, I am so happy that our children will have a good future here and can get a good education in Germany."
The article originally appeared on Fox News