After over two years of waiting and nearly being deported, Afghan asylum seeker Ghasem Mohamadi will officially be allowed to stay in Iceland.
Vísir reports that Ghasem has been awarded political asylum in Iceland. The news comes as a relief to the asylum seeker, who has struggled for over two years to make Iceland his home.
“I just want to thank everyone for all the support I have received,” he told reporters. “I don’t even know all these people, but they remembered me and supported me the whole time.”
Ghasem, who first arrived in Iceland by way of Sweden, waited two years to receive any kind of response from authorities – despite the fact that Article 19 of Dublin Regulation II requires that the application process for asylum be completed within “a maximum of one year.”
It was, in fact, the Dublin Regulation which was cited when he was initially told he would be deported. The regulation gives signatory countries the right – although not the obligation – to deport asylum seekers back to their previous point of departure.
The decision prompted Ghasem to go on a hunger strike which would eventually lead to his hospitalisation. Protests were held in front of the Ministry of the Interior in support of Ghasem, and a petition calling for authorities to let him stay gathered about 1,000 signatures.
For now, Ghasem is focusing on the immediate future.
“I want to learn Icelandic, as I don’t speak English very well,” he told reporters. “I have begun taking Icelandic classes at Mímir [language centre], and then we’ll see what happens next.”