The Evangelical Brethren Unity from the German village of Herrnhut has granted church asylum to 17 Iraqi Christians who were to return to the Czech Republic after their application for asylum was rejected, Czech Radio said Monday, quoting the daily Saechsische Zeitung.
The church community has decided to take the step because the Iraqis are threatened with the deportation to Iraq where their lives are jeopardised, the daily said.
Czech Radio said German churches can grant asylum for a limited time if the deportation threatened their lives.
During the period, the authorities have to re-examine their standard applications for asylum.
In February, the 17-member Iraqi family came to the Czech Republic within a project helping the Christians threatened with persecution over their belief in the local region.
However, the Iraqis later left for Saxony, arguing that they did not feel welcomed in the Czech Republic.
They asked for asylum in Saxony, but German authorities rejected their applications and ordered their return to the Czech Republic.
According to the German church, the news was broken to the Iraqis from the Czech Republic that they would be deported to Iraq due to their "alleged ingratitude."
"The deportation back to Iraq could mean long incarceration, torture or even death for members of the Orthodox Christian family," the church said.
This is why it offered church asylum to the group a week ago.