Migrants who went to Germany from the war-torn Middle East have been accused of faking conversions to Christianity in order to avoid deportation.
A high-ranking police officer in the country criticized the practice in the wake of a murder by an alleged convert who was facing removal.
The unnamed Afghan attacker, 41, killed a five-year-old Russian boy, also an asylum seeker, over the weekend.
He used a knife to kill the boy and also badly hurt his 47-year-old mother, according to German police.
It later emerged that he would have been deported – and thus unable to make the attack – had he not been classified as a Christian.
Due to the dire situation for Christians across much of the Middle East, they are protected from being sent back to countries where they may be persecuted.
This is not true of Muslims, who would be a religious majority and no worse off than anybody else in those countries.
According to the TAG24 news outlet, the chief investigator in Brunswick, Germany, challenged the practice in an interview.
Ulf Küche described the process as “a trick to stay in Germany”. Though he clearly disapproved, he did not suggest how to change the situation.
The phenomenon of conversion to Christianity, mainly from Islam, has been on the rise for years.
A 2016 report by The Daily Beast claims that in excess of ten thousand migrants have likely undergone the conversion in the past few years since arriving in Europe.
It poses the question of whether “conviction or convenience” are behind the change.
Authorities in other parts of Europe are becoming increasingly sceptical of the claims.
Last month Heat Street reported that Sweden had started issuing Biblical knowledge tests to migrants claiming a recent change of faith.
Applicants are asked questions about the contents of New and Old Testaments, as well as questions about the structure of organized churches, which help decide whether their asylum claims should be believed.
Refugee advocates, and some members of the clergy, have complained that it is difficult to assess the strength of somebody else’s faith, especially by testing their factual knowledge.