Moderator backs teenage brothers’ bid to stay in the UK

The Church of Scotland Moderator has handed over an 85,000 signature petition in a bid to prevent the deportation of two teenage brothers.

Somer and Areeb Umeed Bakhsh say their lives would be in danger if they are sent back to Pakistan.

The Rt Rev Susan Brown said Christians in the Muslim country were at risk from Islamist extremists.

The family’s appeals have previously been rejected, with officials arguing they could live elsewhere in Pakistan.

But Mrs Brown called on the Home Secretary Sajid Javid to provide Somer, 15, and Areeb, 13, with permanent sanctuary in the UK.

She said: “The story of this family has touched the hearts of tens of thousands of people who want those in authority to know how upset they are that they are being treated so dispassionately.

“All both boys want is to be the Scots they are and not sent to a country where Christians are persecuted and threatened by Islamic extremists.”

Death threats

The brothers and their parents, Maqsood and Parveen, fled to Glasgow in 2012 from Faisalabad in Pakistan after their father was subjected to death threats due to their Christian faith.

The UK government has repeatedly rejected the family’s plea for asylum, with officials claiming they can live peacefully in another part of Pakistan.

But Mr Bakhsh claims his name and photograph has been circulated among extremist groups and nowhere in the country is safe for them.

The family’s campaign to stay in Scotland has been backed the UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour MP Paul Sweeney and SNP MSP Bob Doris.

Two judicial reviews against the asylum refusal have been dismissed, the most recent at the Court of Appeal in January 2015.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and every case is assessed on its individual merits.”

A judicial review against the asylum refusal was dismissed in November 2013 and a second judicial review was dismissed at the Court of Appeal in January 2015.

Image copyright: Church Of Scotland 

First Published 29.08.18:

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