Afghan interpreter wins asylum

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Faizullah Muradi, who worked as an interpreter for Norwegian forces in Afghanistan only to be deported from Norway after arriving as a refugee, has finally won asylum after all. The government and the authorities were pressured into evaluating his case, not least by military officials and veterans whom he’d served in Afghanistan.

Faizullah Muradi was arrested by police in a midnight raid, and deported from Norway early on Tuesday morning. The 22-year-old served as an interpreter for Norwegian forces in Afghanistan when he was 18, then fled to Italy after he was threatened by the Taliban. He was forced to stay for two years while authorities there pursued a case against the people who smuggled him out of Afghanistan. Norway's immigration department refused to process his application, saying it had to be considered in Italy where Muradi first entered Europe. PHOTO: facebook.com/pages/Få-Faizullah-Muradi-Tilbake-Til-Norge

This photo of Faizullah Muradi being arrested by a sympathetic and clearly uncomfortable police officer in May hit the front pages of most Norwegian newspapers last spring. Now Muradi can legally live the rest of his life in Norway, and no longer fear being sent back to Afghanistan. PHOTO: facebook.com/pages/Få-Faizullah-Muradi-Tilbake-Til-Norge

“I am so happy,” Muradi told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on the phone from Mandal, the southern Norwegian coastal town where he’s been living since last spring’s deportation drama. After being sent back to his first entry point in Europe, for the authorities there to evaluate his case, he was allowed to return to Norway while his asylum application was reconsidered and evaluated in Norway.

His case struck a nerve within the Norwegian public, especially among the military personnel he’d served with in Afghanistan. They had no doubt he’d be at risk for reprisal from the Taliban after Norway pulled its forces out of Afghanistan. They viewed Norway’s initial refusal to evaluate his asylum application as a sign of reverse disloyalty to someone who had helped Norwegian officials and troops in Afghanistan for several years.

Not even the police officer who was ordered to oversee his deportation in May was at ease with his assignment, and admitted with cameras rolling that he didn’t think the deportation was right but he had a job to do. Muradi complied without resistance and the police officer won praise for being so sympathetic.

He attracted widespread national support, not only in Mandal where he volunteered in the local library and made many friends while waiting for his asylum application to be processed. Former military colleagues publicly stated that Muradi had worn the uniform of Norwegian troops and deserved the same respect and treatment as returning veterans.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg finally stepped in, after Muradi had been sent out of the country, and the Justice Ministry agreed to reevaluate his case. When he finally was flown back to Norway, he was greeted at the airport by many Norwegian military officials in full uniform.

Now Muradi says he can look forward to a peaceful life in Norway. “Now I can finally feel safe,” a grateful Muradi told NRK on Thursday. “I don’t need to worry about being sent back to Afghanistan.” He intended to start taking Norwegian classes later this month.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund