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Dear Editor:
While I'm not surprised that the US has granted political asylum to Mohamed Al Rahaief, the Iraqi who facilitated the rescue of Jessica Lynch, allegedly at great personal risk, I feel compelled to point out that it is still a subversion of asylum law. Asylum is here bestowed as a reward for political correctness and valor, rather than as a benefit to an individual who meets the statutory criteria. Mr. Al Rahaeif cannot have demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution by the government of Iraq because there is no longer a government of Iraq. Likewise, he cannot have shown a well-founded fear of persecution by a group or groups that the government is unable or unwilling to control - because once again, there is no government, and we have been led to believe the US military is in control. Furthermore, his humanitarian act of saving a young woman from her brutal captors would have to impute to him the political opinion of being pro-U.S. and anti Saddam, but since Saddam is gone and the U.S. has "liberated" Iraq, who then would his persecutors be? Under the present conditions of anarchy and bedlam, many Iraqis could claim fear of persecution by a virtually unrestrained opposition political faction, but it remains to be seen how many of them will be given refugee status. Most of all, though, I want to know if the female, Christian, Iraqi exile, Katrin Michael, will be given asylum as well. Ms. Michael was reportedly placed in deportation proceedings one week after being summoned to the White House to give testimony of her horrific persecution under Saddam, which included being gassed as a member of the Kurdish guerrillas. According to the article, her deportability resulted from the denial of a 1998 asylum claim, but if half of the story is true, she qualified for asylum based on several of the accepted grounds: religion, gender and political opinion. If her claim was discredited, then why was she suddenly credible enough to give testimony at the White House to help Bush win support for the war? Mr. Al Rahaief is the token asylee, much like the one Iraqi boy, who lost his arms in an explosion, was flown to Kuwait and given the best medical care money can buy, was the poster child for U.S. benevolence. I am sure that hundreds of Iraqi children lost their parents and their limbs as a result of the US invasion- what of them? Perhaps there is no political leverage to be gained by showcasing Ms. Michael if the goal is to play to worldwide Muslim public opinion, largely male-dominated. P.S. I don't disapprove of Mr. Al Rahaief's grant of asylum. I only wish for a more consistently humanitarian and less "political" approach to asylum. But I suppose they don't call it "political asylum" for nothing.


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