A U.S. judge has granted political asylum to a German family who said they had fled the country to avoid persecution for home schooling their children. In the first reported case of its kind, Tennessee immigration judge Lawrence Burman ruled the family of seven have a legitimate fear of prosecution for their beliefs. Germany requires parents to enrol their children in school in most cases and has levied fines against those who educate their children at home.

Christians Uwe Romeike, a piano teacher, and his wife, Hannelore, moved to Morristown, Tennessee, in 2008 after German authorities fined them thousands of euros for keeping their children out of school and sent police to escort them to classes, Romeike said. They had been holding classes in their home.

Along with thousands of torture victims, political dissidents, members of religious minorities and other persecuted groups who win political asylum every year, the Romeike family will now be free to live and work in the U.S.

“Home schoolers in Germany are a particular social group, which is one of the protected grounds under the asylum law,” said Mike Connelly, attorney for the Home School Legal Defence Association, who argued the case. “This judge looked at the evidence, he heard their testimony, and he felt that the way Germany is treating home schoolers is wrong. The rights being violated here are basic human rights.” — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

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