(CHICAGO, IL 8/28/17) — CAIR-Chicago announced today that its client Toufik Khiat has been granted asylum on August 8, 2017 after filing two years ago.
Khiat is a thirty-two year old human rights worker from Algeria and is part of the Mozabite people, a minority ethnic group indigenous to northern Sahara in Algeria currently facing persecution by the Algerian government. Mozabites are of the Ibadi Muslim religious minority in Algeria.
Khiat recounts countless experiences of state-based institutionalized racism and individual violence such as beatings, stabbings, various assaults, the murders of loved ones, ongoing emotional trauma, and housing destruction, among other violence, due to ethnic and religious racism.
In 2012 Khiat joined a national human rights group aimed at advocating for the rights and dignity of the Ibadi Mozabite people and other similarly persecuted religious and ethnic minorities within Algeria. During his time with this group Khiat took videos and photos of the violence against his community and shared them with the international community and the United Nations. According to Khiat, Algerian security officials threatened to kill and torture him for his human rights work, and burned down his house.
After coming to the United States in August 2014 on a B-2 visa and witnessing only increasing religious and ethnic-based violence against his family, friends, colleagues, and hometown in the Algerian province of Ghardaia, Khiat applied for asylum, knowing the imminent threat of death he faced upon his return to Algeria due to the nature of his human rights work in opposition and resistance to state oppression of his people.
“Khiat’s powerful story is not uncommon, but is one that needs to be told,” Says Phil Robertson, CAIR-Chicago Litigation Director. “We are pleased that Khiat was granted asylum and hope that his time in Chicago is more peaceful than the violence from which he was forced to leave.”
“When I first arrived to USA I was in a terrible situation and came with nothing.” says Toufik Khiat. “CAIR-Chicago gave me my self confidence. I felt like I was on a boat in the ocean that would not land anywhere. Thanks to CAIR Chicago and their great team, I finally feel like I’ve landed safely.”
Khiat has a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Algiers and currently works full-time as a Lift Van Driver in Chicago.