Calling all Swedes

I made an error, too, because I can’t read Swedish. The blog listed below is someone else explaining Khalid’s situation; Khalid’s blog is here, and it’s in English!

Your country is about to make a major mistake! They are preparing to deport Khalid and his family — his wife and three children — back to Pakistan, their native country. One problem: he’s one of those noisy blogging atheists, and while I can appreciate that they’re an annoying, obnoxious lot, kicking him out of Sweden means he’ll be sent to Pakistan. Sweden is refusing his request for asylum, which basically means that he’s being given a death sentence. It doesn’t mean that the Pakistani government will have him directly executed; they have a subtler plan. Under the laws there, any good Muslim who kills an apostate faces no punishment.

I don’t know who to contact, and the information I was sent provided no recommendations for how to address this looming problem (we only have a few days to act). If anyone has any idea about who we should be howling at, let me know in comments or email, and I’ll add it to this post.


  1. pedantik says

    If they can get themselves to the US, there’s an INS policy of granting asylum to people who those fleeing various forms of persecution. Here’s a link;

    If this family needs assistance in getting to the US, the skeptical community should step right in and see that it’s done. I’m willing.

  2. says

    This is the reason why I hate immigration controls.

    Though he should have been given asylum, even under the (unsatisfactory) existing law. Like most countries, Sweden is a party to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, which defines a refugee as a person who:

    …owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.

    The persecution doesn’t have to be perpetrated by the government; it may also be grounds for asylum if the persecution is being perpetrated by individuals or groups that the government is unable or unwilling to control. If Khalid can show that he is likely to be murdered on the ground of his religious and/or political opinions, and that the Pakistani government typically does nothing to prevent the murder of apostates from Islam, he ought to be eligible for asylum.

    This should have been implemented in Sweden’s domestic law. I don’t know anything about Sweden’s immigration procedures, but presumably there is a route of appeal from the denial of asylum, and I suggest that Khalid should appeal the decision using the routes available to him. (Hopefully he’s got legal representation.)

    Even if he is refused asylum, he may be able to avoid deportation: Sweden is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, and, therefore, should not be deporting people to countries where they are likely to face “torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” contrary to Article 3 of the Convention. (In Britain, people who are refused asylum still may be able to avoid deportation if they can show that they would be likely to be tortured if deported to their country of nationality. The same is true in the United States, where failed asylum-applicants can request withholding of removal under the Convention against Torture if s/he is “more likely than not” to be tortured if deported to his or her home country.)

  3. Trebuchet says

    Canada might be a better bet than the USA. Can you imagine the fundies’ reaction to bringing in an atheist mooslim? And they’ll see no problem with being both at once.

  4. Rosemary says

    I mention Canada because an atheist friend from Pakistan recently got his refugee status here, but I’m not sure if it was on the basis of his atheism or if because he is from an oppressed ethnic group in Pakistan. If Khalid and family are willing to come to Canada, I think their chances would be good.

  5. me says

    @Trebuchet: Well they didn’t have a problem with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. After all, she’s a fellow at the AEI now of all places. Apparently, the only good atheist, to them, is one that used to be a muslim.

  6. Jens Rydholm says

    Swedish reader here. Thanks for the heads up. I’ve emailed Amnesty Sweden (of which I am a member) to check if they are on the case yet. If not, I offered to help if I can just get some hints on who to call. I also contacted Khalid himself and offered to help there.

    Amnesty is an organization of good standing in Sweden, so contacting Ammesty at could help raise awareness of this case.

  7. Rasmus says

    First of all Nima Dervish is not Khalid. Dervish is a secular activist and a Swedish citizen afaik. Khalid’s blog is at

    I don’t know if this would count as news yet, because there doesn’t seem to be much information about it. More blogging, twittering and facebooking might help a little bit.

    It probably wouldn’t hurt to tip Swedish news media about the situation. Here is a list of news tip mail addresses for a number of nationwide news organizations:

    “Tabloid” newspapers


    Public radio news

    Public TV news

    Private TV news

    It’s safe to assume that the persons who maintain these mailboxes read English. In fact, mail written in English is probably going to stand out among the rest of the mail that they get.

  8. Rasmus says

    Posting again. May be a double post…

    First of all Nima Dervish is not Khalid. Dervish is a secular activist and a Swedish citizen afaik. Khalid’s blog is at

    I don’t know if this would count as news yet, because there doesn’t seem to be much information about it. More blogging, twittering and facebooking might help a little bit.

    It probably wouldn’t hurt to tip Swedish news media about the situation. Here is a list of news tip mail addresses for a number of nationwide news organizations:

    “Tabloid” newspapers


    Public radio news

    Public TV news

    Private TV news

    It’s safe to assume that the persons who maintain these mailboxes read English. In fact, mail written in English is probably going to stand out among the rest of the mail that they get.

  9. Chris says

    Swedish reader here.
    I’m just a bit skeptical. He seems to have his facts wrong. Sweden isn’t influeted by sharia law. The Social Democrats are not going to deport any one just becourse the Muslim brotherhood whants them to.
    And how atheist is he when he have asked the salvation army for help?
    I’m not saying that he should be deported. If he is a Christian, or an Atheist, he is still in trubble in Pakistan. But there is something in his story that just does not add up

  10. Ströh says

    Swedish reader here, I’m aware of the situation and it is despicable. Unfortunately, there are very few avenues left – he will be deported. The immigration court has (absurdly enough) come to the conclusion that he will not face risk of torture and because of this they are denying asylum.

    His appeal has already been denied too. This is horrendous, of course, but it’s essentially becoming the way our immigration system works these days. And it’s not that it’s going to change soon either – we got our own racist party in parliament last fall and most people not content with the current system dislikes it for being too soft, not too hard – sadly, Muslims seem to be as persecuted here as in the rest of the west.

    We’ve had several instances of upstanding members of their communities getting deported the last few years, accompanied with several instances of their friends forming human chains and mass protests to stop them, but it never works. When the government has decided to deport someone, they certainly make sure to see it through.

  11. Rasmus says

    That’s a good initiative, Jens. Maybe you can find out more about his situation. I would also guess that Amnesty would have people who are experienced at working the system, so I would second

    Khalid wrote that he has been receiving some help from a woman in the salvation army, which is good of her, but I don’t really think the salvation army as an organization has prior experience dealing with this sort of issue.

    There is, but they are also not an asylum support organization. If you use twitter you can use the hashtag #swehum to get the attention of Swedish secular humanist twitter users.

    Then there is obviously blogging and other new/social media to raise awareness. If you could get it to a point where there is enough material out there to make the traditional news media interested then that could potentially make things happen quickly enough to matter…

    The official government information about the asylum process is available on the webpage of the Swedish migration authority. (That link leads to a page in English.) I don’t know where Khalid is in the process, but it seems like there are opportunities to appeal essentially until he leaves Sweden or is thrown out by the police if he doesn’t leave voluntarily. These appeals have to qualify by certain criteria in order for them to be accepted by the court.

    The news media can make a huge difference if they chose to report about it, but I don’t know if there is enough information out there about Khalid’s case at this point for them to be interested. I imagine that they want a good deal of the story handed to them before they take interest. Once they get interested they are probably going to want to have quite a lot of information that demonstrates that his story is really true.

    There isn’t enough information out there yet that I would bother mailing them at the moment, but I made a list of email addresses to news media outlets that I could find for future reference. These addresses are specifically for tips about news, pictures, videos, etc:

    Regional news for the greater Gothenburg area

    Biggest local newspaper in Gothenburg

    “Tabloid” newspapers


    Public radio news

    Public TV news

    Private TV news

    Oh and in case anyone is unsure you can contact most any Scandinavian person or organization in English. Mail written in English is probably going to stand out among the rest of the mail that they get. I assume they receive craploads of mail in Swedish.

  12. Rasmus says

    Chris: You’re right that something does not add up, but that does not mean that his situation isn’t legitimate. People from broken societies often don’t understand how western societies work.

    There are only about 30 or so governments in the world that are not completely corrupt…

  13. Olav says


    And how atheist is he when he have asked the salvation army for help?

    This is a really idiotic, unfeeling question.

    I am also an atheist. But if I felt my life was in danger I would gladly accept the Salvation Army’s help. Or anyone else’s help for that matter. It has to do with priorities. Survive first, debate later.

  14. Ströh says


    Quite so. This particular poor sod got screwed over by being assigned essentially the worst lawyer in the land and being financially unable to find someone else to represent him. It’s covered in some length in the blog PZ linked to first, the one he mistook for Khalids. How bad was he? So bad that he couldn’t be bothered to talk to potential supporters about the situation, even when the supporters called him, despite Khalid giving him full permission to do so.

    This is particularly disastrous seeing how the Swedish migration court (which handles asylum appeals) essentially works like a criminal court, with the asylum seeker as the plaintiff and the National Migration Board (NMB) as the defendant. See the lopsided power balance at play?

    This means that the asylum seeker has to prove to the court that the NMB either committed gross misconduct in handling their case, failed to properly evaluate available information or is able to present new information capable of overturning the earlier ruling. None of these things are easy, if even possible, without a skilled and dedicated lawyer since you are, after all, arguing a difficult case in a foreign court.

    With Khalid it would appear that the NMB failed to properly evaluate the threat and his lawyer failed to prove it, despite the overwhelming evidence that atheists in general and Khalid in particular do face persecution in Pakistan – because of this, in the eyes of the court, he has no right to asylum.

    In essence, Khalid got screwed over by a complacent and uncaring system twice – by no fault of his own.

  15. mywall says

    Not sure what I can do here. I have contacted my MP and my MEPs to ask for help on Khalid’s behalf.
    However, I seem to remember that he may have been in the UK a few years ago and may have had some oddness involving a student visa.

  16. mywall says

    I have also contacted the Swedish immigration board. I doubt it will help, such organisations tend to be staffed by subhumans (obviously this doesn’t apply to immigration staff capable of reading pharyngula).

  17. Rasmus says

    Right. I’m vaguely aware that the immigration court system has been described as broken since the day it was implemented a few years ago. Not unlike the system we had before it…

    I even recall reading about a case where the local Sverigedemokraterna group protested against a deportation, although I don’t know which of the systems was in place when that happened.

    That’s not to say we should buy Khalid’s story without evidence, but I think the most likely assumption when someone complains about impending deportation from Sweden is that their case did at least not get a good enough assessment.

  18. SteveL says

    I agree with #13. There’s a red-meat fundamentalist christian post on his website by an ex-Muslim convert to christianity: here.

  19. vicarofartonearth says


    1. Post a sample letter on the home page to send to media listed above. Individualized is great, but it is equally important to appear a group. As others to pass along to other blogs and lists.

    2. If you live in the USA send an email asking that Sweden investagate this case again, and that Pakistan has a history of killing people who do not want to be Muslim anymore. Can Sweden help find another country of residence for these people who have become western in world view. Do we have a responsibility to people who have moved to reason and global values of freedom of religious and secular conscieness.

    3. The squeeky wheel gets the grease.

    4. Start on of the petitions like with the server for the Australian cuttlefish.

    Embassy of Sweden Washington

    Embassy of Sweden
    2900 K Street, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20007

    Phone:+1-202-467 2600
    Fax:+1-202-467 2699

  20. J.M. says


    I agree with #13. There’s a red-meat fundamentalist christian post on his website by an ex-Muslim convert to christianity

    There are often red-meat fundamentalist christian messages reproduced on Pharyngula, too. It doesn’t imply endorsement of any affiliation held by the writer(s) by PZ.

  21. Ströh says

    From what I can gather, he reposted the “fundamentalist” Christian retelling in order to prove how in Pakistan, defection from Islam – irregardless of whether it’s for atheism or another religion like Christianity – is met with the threat of lethal force.

    The Swedish NMB is denying this reality. I can hardly see how you can fault him for using any other examples available to prove otherwise.

  22. says

    I live in Sweden but am not Swedish. However, I have sought the best advice at short notice, which I copy directly from an email from a Swede concerned about this issue:

    You can contact the swedish immigration minister to complain. His name is Tobias Billström. On this page you can contact him by e-mail. Clicking the link ( “e-post till Tobias Billström, via registrator” will open a web form. There is also a phone number above, but I don’t know who will answer the phone. It’s certainly not his direct number but rather the justice department in general.

    This is the best I can do at the moment. Will post again if any other suggestions come up.

  23. Khalid Saeed says

    Answer to ( Chris ) what he wrote:::17 September 2011 at 4:46 pm
    Chris says:
    And how atheist is he when he have asked the salvation army for help?—
    Answer well Chris me and my family including three children ages 4years,6years and 10years old we are in trouble and we know how it is and what we are going through even my children are suffering mentally and in this situation I am willing to go to any one who will help me and my Children .

    I my self I have major depression because of all situation and taking medicine but it does not help.

    I also thank ( Olav ) for responding to Chirs and supporting me and family and I also thank all of you who are supporting me .

    Request to all Please help and support me and my family
    Thanks to all
    Khalid Saeed

  24. Hans Erling Jensen says

    Anybody that wants to help Khalid and his lovely family whom are suffering so much because of their beliefs in humanity and not islam, can write to me. I am doing the little I can to help Khalid and his family not to be prosecuted according to the pakistani law sektion 245 B and C that means death penalty for critizising islam and their selfmade prophet!

    My e-mail is
    My telephonenumber is +45 3151 2046 (Please leave a message and I will call you).

    Hans Erling Jensen (I am living in Sweden)

  25. freemind says

    Hans is my friend and helping us so any one wnat to help us in any way please contact Hans.
    Thanks to all
    Khalid Saeed

  26. mywall says

    Response from Swedish immigration authority:

    Thank you for your e-mail.

    If the person mention has applied for asylum in Sweden and got a negative descision after appealing his case to the Migration Court he must leave the country. The grounds for the descision is in the descision given to him.

    In Sweden it is the government that, after free elections, decides the laws. Regarding a foreign citizens right to stay in Sweden it is regulated in the Swedish Aliens Act.

    Yours sincerely

    Kristina Starkhammar

    Useless!! Not sure how else I can help now. Let me know if there’s anything I can do from the UK.

  27. freemind says

    (pedantik says:17 September 2011 at 8:53 am:::If this family needs assistance in getting to the US, the skeptical community should step right in and see that it’s done. I’m willing.)

    pedantik Please can you contact me we are in problem and need help if you can help us please contact me or
    Hans Erling Jensen e-mail is telephonenumber is +45 3151 2046

    thanks to you and all and waiting response from you.
    Khalid Saeed

  28. says

    My name is Per Edman.

    I’m a swedish reader of the blog, a member of the board of the Swedish Skeptics and, coincidentally, I am a long-term jury member in the swedish migration court in Stockholm.

    SHORT VERSION: Applicants must make their case likely or will be denied on insufficient evidence. Migration courts are the second appeals instance, not the first. Ministers cannot intervene.

    LONG VERSION: The migration court is where you apply to have a decision by the migration board overturned. There are four courts in all, three divided by region where Stockholm is one, and one supreme migration court for appeals.

    With my background, I find it unlikely that the migration court (the appeals instance after the migration board) would decide that Khalid WILL NOT face persecution – it is much more likely, much more common and much easier to motivate the decision that he HAS NOT MADE LIKELY that he will face such persecution. Now, IANAL, but I believe I have become quite adept at interpreting the law during my years as a jury member, testing appeals against the requirements for asylum, but I am suffering from a bias: Every case that reaches us has already been tested by the migration board who handle all cases at first. It is not until after their decision has been appealed that the matter ends up in court. So I only ever see the people who have been turned down at the first instance.

    Once the case does end up in court, it is the responsibility of the refugee in cooperation with their lawyer to make the case likely that they face such treatment as would be grounds for asylum. The court doesn’t decide that you CANNOT be persecuted, or WILL NOT be persecuted, only that you the applicant has not made it likely that you will be. There is quite a bit of leniency and the applicant will be given the benefit of the doubt, some inconsistencies will be ignored, but things such as staying in the country illegally, giving a false name, failure to produce identification when such identification must have been present during travel into the county – will count against any applicant, regardless of what form of persecution they fear. As has been correctly stated before, it doesn’t matter if the persecution stems from the government, or if the government is unable or unwilling to help.

    Now, I have not read the details of the case, and have seen no specific reference to the answer from the court, but if I were to read it, I believe I could quickly clarify which parts are canned responses, what they mean, and what parts are the specifics of the case. Sweden is an informationally open society and unless there is sensitive personal information in the case, or if the case itself could be used as a grounds to persecute Hamid in Pakistan, I would probably be able to find the entire case documentation and read it, even if I hadn’t been a jury member.

    One last thing: Contacting a swedish minister to overturn a judicial case, is a dead end. Sweden follows the basic democratic principle of separation of powers and ministers belong to the executive branch, not the legislative and absolutely not the judicial. It would be criminal for a minister to intervene in a case of law. So don’t ask them to.

  29. says

    #24, vicarofartonearth,

    If the applicant can show that another country will receive them, Sweden has no problem deporting the applicant to that country instead of the country of origin, but there is no government instance tasked with finding such countries for applicants who have been denied asylum.

  30. says

    Kära Per,
    Jag hittar dig inte specifikt i telefonkatalogen….men kan inte du ta kontakt på – du verkar veta vad det handlar om. Och du har rätt, denna saken är om “likely”. Dvs att all tal om rättvisa och människorättigheter kommer att röra sig om, vem som har det bästa nätverket och därmed dom bästa möjligheterna för att främja sin sak genom “stunts”.

    I Khalids sak kan jag garantera för att det inte förekommer något försök på att “stunta”. Jag arbetar sedan mitt senaste möte med Khalid i helgen på att få historien gjort världskänd just på grund av sakens horribla avslöjande av, att det i Sverige inte härskar ett bättra människosyn än i något annat land – man är bara bättra till att tolka lagerna till samhällets fördel (begränsa integration), att det så utmynnar i en total godtycklighet i förhållandet till den asylsökande bryr de regerande sig uppenbarligen väsentligt mindre om – eller rättare de skiter totalt i detta.

    Vad Khalid står för och har gjort sannolikgör i sig att hans liv är i grov fara vid en deportation till Pakistan.

  31. says

    Hans Erling,

    I think it’d be most polite to keep this conversation understandable for all parties. :) Certainly I could contact you by e-mail though I am unsure what help I can be at this point:

    Too late

    In the situation Khalid now finds himself anything we do is sort of too little, too late. It’s a tragic situation that many applicants for immigration do not bring all their best arguments to the table until they’ve had not one, but two negative responses from the board and courts of migration. If one had compelling evidence of a concrete threat against one´s person, that evidence really should have been brought to the table during the original case for the migration board (“Migrationsverket”) and if significant new information is added after that, the case could be resubmitted to that instance. But now, we have a case that has been determined as insufficient by the migration board, and then reinforced by the migration courts.

    Indefinite delay

    The best one could hope for in order to stay, is an indefinite delay of the already ordered repatriation. This was for example the case with Iraqis who came to Sweden during Desert Storm – even if someone was denied asylum they were not repatriated until such a time that the warlike situation in Iraq had decreased significantly. Even today, I know of very few forced repatriations to Baghdad, because the day to day situation there is still very volatile, and to certain other regions in Iraq, no christians are deported because of severe sanctions and persecution there. I honestly don’t know the specifics there.. But while waiting for repatriation, migrants are granted a temporary right to stay in the country (“tillfälligt uppehållstillstånd”, TUT) and if the expected waiting time is more than two years, a permanent right of stay (“permanent uppehållstillstånd”, PUT) is issued instead, because it is considered inhumane to allow people to live with uncertainty for so long.

    Or, as I said before, one can arrange for transportation and apply for asylum in another nation, and be deported there instead, by informing the migration courts of this. I’m not sure what kinds of guarantees are expected in such cases as I am very rarely aware of what happens to a case after judgement has been made.


    Now that I think about it, there is one last thing one can do, but I am uncertain of the morality of it. See… the court hinges its “non-decision” on the fact that Khalid hasn’t made it likely that he can expect persecution upon his return. If Khalid where to be identified BY the Pakistani government as a person of interest while he is here in Sweden, he could be deemed to have “sur place”-reasons to be granted the right to stay. So rather than calling attention to Sweden’s migration court making a bad decision, call international attention to what Khalid has done. If the Pakistani government acknowledges that he is an activist, if they know his name and his face, Swedish officials will not deport him. As always, uncertainty is a very dangerous enemy. If you were to make Khalid famous in Pakistan for opposing islam, but receive no information that the Pakistani government are aware of this, deportation could still take place, and the situation would be WORSE than before.

    Ultimate disclaimer

    Again – I Am Not A Lawyer and my advice is based solely on experience with muddy situations full of unclear judgement calls on very little information. Some might call my speculation above immoral and irresponsible, but even though I am doing work in the name of our current law, my real feelings about migration and refugeehood is that it really shouldn’t be difficult for any free man, woman or child to move from one nation to another. The entire idea of nations and their impenetrable borders are a nostalgic tradition that does more harm than good. So while I work for the system as best I can, I dream of a better tomorrow. Maybe we all do.

  32. Hans Erling Jensen says

    Kära Per,
    Du har redan hjälpt mycket med dina kommentarer här. Jag är tacksam för detta. I ovrigt en tack till alla som hjälper eller gärna vill här.

    Inom kort kommer en site för Khalid på webben på olika språk. Denna sak är vår allas! Nästa gång kan det vara oss sjælv….vem vet!