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Monday, 16 July 2018

More than 43,000 sign petition to save teenage brothers from deportation

Written by The Press Association

More than 43,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Home Office not to deport two teenage brothers from Scotland.

Areeb Umeed Bakhsh (left), 13, and his brother Somer (right), 15, fear Islamic extremists will kill them if they return to Pakistan.

The brothers have lived in Glasgow since their family fled Pakistan in 2012 after their father was subjected to death threats due to his Christian faith.

The UK Government has repeatedly rejected the family’s asylum applications, largely because officials do not believe they would be at risk in Pakistan.

The family have been told they have exhausted the process and have no right to appeal but are prepared to launch a legal challenge.

The Rt Rev Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland supports the boys’ case.

She said: “Tens of thousands of people want their names to count in the campaign to allow the Bakhsh family to stay in Scotland.

“This is a family who call this country home and the uncertainty they are living with is cruel.”

“Scotland used to be a place renowned for its welcome,” she added.

“We need to make sure that reputation is preserved – especially when it comes to those who have nowhere else to turn to.”

The boys’ father Masqood believes the people responsible for shooting dead two Christians outside a court in Faisalabad, Pakistan, know who he is and would kill him and his family given the chance.

He said they believe he is in league with the two men who were shot after being accused of writing a pamphlet critical of the Prophet Muhammad that flouted Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law, which carries the death penalty.

The 50-year-old said it was “amazing” that more than 43,700 people to date have signed the 38 Degrees petition, started by the Rev Linda Pollock, minister of Possilpark parish church which the family attends.

He added: “We are thankful to each one of them because it is not easy to cope with the situation that we are facing.”

The family’s MP Paul Sweeney and MSP Bob Doris have brought up the case with the Home Office.

Mr Sweeney said he was “really pleased” so many people have pledged their support through the petition.

He said: “I know our community will pull together to assist any fundraising effort to pay any legal costs associated with this case, but it should never have come to this.

“The system is failing, but we must not fail these new Scots.”

Mr Doris said he has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, arguing for the Bakhsh family to stay in Scotland.

He said: “Not only do the Bakhsh family have a very real fear of religious persecution if they are sent back to Pakistan, but the family’s two sons, Somer and Areeb, are settled and excelling at school.

“Allowing the family to stay is not only the right and humane thing to do, it’s also in our nation’s interests.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Curch of Scotland / PA Wire.