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96-Day Church Service Ends on a High Note

'Intended result has been achieved' as family's deportation temporarily halted
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2019 7:42 AM CST
Hayarpi Tamrazyan is pictured inside Bethel Church in The Hague, Netherlands, on Dec. 13, 2018.   (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
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(Newser) – One of the longest religious ceremonies ever recorded came to an end Wednesday in the Netherlands with a lot of clapping. Bethel Church in the Hague put an end to 96 days of nonstop worship with news that a family of refugees sheltering inside the church was safe from immediate deportation. Since Oct. 26, church officials had made use of an obscure Dutch law forbidding cops from entering places of worship during an active service to protect the Tamrazyan family, said to have fled political persecution in Armenia before arriving in the Netherlands in 2010. In what the New York Times calls a "grand compromise," the governing coalition provisionally agreed Tuesday to reassess the cases of hundreds of families set to be deported.

Reuters reports minors living in the Netherlands for more than five years can qualify for permanent residency; the families whose cases will be reviewed have roughly 700 children between them but didn't qualify. One of the service organizers says political leaders assured him the Tamrazyans and their three children would be among the cases reviewed. "The expectation is that a large number of the rejected children will be eligible" for a residency permit, government minister Mark Harbers says, per CBS News, noting none of the families will be deported during the review. "The intended result has been achieved," says Bethel Church. The family will continue to live at the church until their case is decided. (More on the case here.)

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