West Europe

Pakistani Christian family targeted by Islamists rejected for UK asylum

L-R Somer Umeed, Parveen Umeed, Areeb Umeed and Maqsood Bakhsh. Photo credit: Church of Scotland

A Pakistani Christian family, living in Scotland, whose request for asylum has been denied by the UK Home Office are challenging the claim by the UK authorities that they would be safe if they returned to Pakistan.

Maqsood Bakhsh (50) fled Pakistan with his wife and two sons in 2012, after Islamists threatened to kill him because of his Christian faith. He states Islamists believe he is connected to two Christian men accused of writing a pamphlet critical of Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws. The pair were subsequently murdered while in police custody in Faisalabad in 2010.

The family’s application for asylum has been repeatedly rejected and now the only option open to them, to avoid deportation, is to take their case to the courts.

Maqsood, who is an elder at a church in Glasgow, told journalists, “They [the Home Office] keep telling us that some parts of Pakistan are safe for Christians. It is true that lots of Christians live in Pakistan but once you have been targeted by Islamic extremists who know your name and your face, it is impossible to live.

“Four of my friends have been killed by Islamic extremists and my sister-in- law’s brother is serving life in jail because of the blasphemy law. My nephew was kidnapped last month and no one knows what has happened to him,” he declared.