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Church of Scotland minister fights against deportation of Pakistanis

A Church of Scotland minister has started a petition to try and persuade the UK government not to deport two teenage brothers to Pakistan.
Rev Linda Pollock said she hoped the voices of ordinary people would persuade home secretary Sajid Javid that it would be a mistake to remove Somer and Areeb Umeed from their home in Glasgow and send them back to a ‘foreign’ country.
She added that the brothers, who are aged 15 and 13 respectively, should be nurtured and not placed in an ‘unbearable situation where they are publicly begging for life’.
Somer, Areeb and their parents Maqsood Bakhsh and Parveen fled Pakistan, where Christians are persecuted, in 2012 and have spent the last six-years seeking sanctuary in Glasgow. They were just nine and seven respectively when they came to Glasgow, regard the city as their home and identify as Scottish.
But the UK government has repeatedly turned them down, largely because officials do not believe they would be at risk.
The family have been told they have now exhausted the asylum seeking process and have no right to appeal, which means potential legal action is the only way ahead unless the Home Office has a change of heart.
Pollock, minister of Possilpark Parish Church in Glasgow where the family are members, said: ‘I started this petition because the boys have no other options.
‘They have exhausted all avenues of appeal to the Home Office for the right to stay here and I fear for their lives.
‘I am also very concerned about the impact of living with this high level of stress is having upon them.’
Ms Pollock said the brothers were ‘just kids’ who have already given the community so much and have more to give.
‘We ought to be nurturing these youngsters not placing them in an unbearable situation where they are publicly begging for life,’ she added.
‘It feels as if Somer and Areeb are being treated not as boys, alive with hopes and dreams, but as numbers on a list.
‘My hope in setting up this petition is that the people’s voice will be heard by the Home Office, the ordinary people who know what it is to dream, to hope and celebrate our gift of life.’
Somer and Areeb are pupils at Springburn Academy where teachers say they are popular, hardworking and highly academic with bright futures ahead of them.
Amy Brown, who is in the sixth year at the school, has also started a petition to help the boys and 2,159 people have signed it so far.
She said: ‘The reason why we decided to help Somer and Areeb was due to the impact they have had on our school, their friends and the Springburn community.
‘There are always stories about those who are being threatened with deportation but it was a shock when a family in our community was faced with that.
‘That was when I and many others decided that we couldn’t sit back and watch a family that has lived here for more than six years and made Scotland their home be taken away.’
The catalyst for the family’s move to Scotland was the murder of two Christians who were gunned down outside a court, while in police custody, in the Pakistan city of Faisalabad in July 2010.
Pastor Rashid Emmanuel, 32, and Sajid, 24, were accused of writing a pamphlet critical of the Prophet Muhammad that flouted Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law, which carries the death penalty.
Christians are a minority group in Pakistan and have been repeatedly targeted in a string of deadly terrorist attacks claimed

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