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Scottish church leaders back brothers’ fight against deportation

Bakhsh family Image copyright Cameron Brooks
Image caption Somer and Areeb Umeed Bakhsh fled Pakistan with their parents Parveen and Maqsood

Church leaders in Scotland have united in a bid to stop two teenage brothers living in Glasgow from being deported.

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

Home Office officials have argued the boys, aged 15 and 13, could live away from their former home in Faisalabad.

The boys fled Pakistan with their Christian parents, Parveen and Maqsood, in 2012 after Islamic extremists threatened to kill their father.

Supporters backing the brothers’ case include the Moderator of the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

They have now written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid urging him to re-examine the family’s case and “recognise the Pakistan-wide threat they face”.

A letter written by Church of Scotland moderator, The Rt Rev Susan Brown, says: “As you will be aware, the blasphemy laws in Pakistan are such that even without substantive evidence, accusations can be made against those not of the Muslim faith.

“Petty disagreements between neighbours, for example, can result in people of another faith being accused under the law and lead to their imprisonment or being pursued with the intent to kill.

“This is precisely the reason why this faithful Christian family find themselves in Scotland.”

Campaign petition

The letter is also signed by Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley, and Bishop Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

John Cross, Moderator of the United Free Church of Scotland, The Rev Dr David Easton, chair of the Synod of the Methodist Church in Scotland, and 13 former Church of Scotland moderators have also added their names to the appeal.

A petition calling on the Home Office not to deport the boys has been signed by more than 88,000 people to date.

The Home Office said it does not comment on individual cases.

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