Algerian convert wins deportation appeal

By Simon Rocker, October 19, 2011

An Algerian asylum-seeker who was threatened with deportation has won temporary respite after a judge granted him leave to remain in Britain.

But Krim Aitziane, 49, still faces an uncertain future after the Home Office said that it would contest the immigration tribunal ruling.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We are extremely disappointed with the court's judgment and we are appealing against the decision to allow this individual to remain in the UK."

Mr Aitziane, who dresses as if he were strictly Orthodox but in fact converted to Judaism in Britain under Liberal auspices, has an unusual story. He says he was adopted in Algeria but discovered only in his teens that he was Jewish by birth.

After arriving in the UK around 11 years ago, he had contact with the Charedi community in North London and adopted an Orthodox lifestyle. But he has been unable to gain Orthodox recognition of his Jewish status.

After he was moved by the immigration authorities to the Midlands, Mr Aitziane began attending Progressive services in Birmingham, and more recently in Leicester. The Liberal movement formally accepted him as a convert.

When his first attempt to gain asylum failed, an application for aliyah was made on his behalf but, two years on, the Israeli authorities have yet to satisfy themselves about his credentials.

In June, he was detained by UK immigration officials and held in detention centres near Oxford and Southampton.

But the Board of Deputies warned that it could be dangerous to deport him back to Algeria if he openly practised a Jewish way of life.

Finally, last month, a judge in Solihull granted him leave to remain here, initially for three years.

Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue, who appeared as a witness at the tribunal on Mr Aitziane's behalf, said: "We were delighted with the judge's verdict but we couldn't get too excited because of the possibililty of the Home Office appealing."

A few days before Rosh Hashanah, Mr Aitziane was moved to lodgings in Bristol; he attended High Holy-Day services at the Progressive community but hoped to go to Bristol's Orthodox synagogue for Succot.

While the judge's ruling was "fantastic," he said that he was "sad and angry" at the Home Office's decision to appeal.

Last updated: 12:00pm, October 19 2011