Two Pakistani Christian brothers are celebrating after the Home Office approved their family’s application for asylum following a high profile Church of Scotland campaign.
Somer Umeed Bakhsh, 16, and his younger brother Areeb, 14, have lived for the last seven years in Glasgow after their family fled Pakistan fearing for their lives after the murder of close Christian friends.
However, the battle is not over as the family have only been granted “limited leave to remain” until February 2022 and will have to apply for an extension in just two and a half years.
Nonetheless, the brothers, who attend Possilpark Parish Church in Glasgow with their parents Maqsood and Parveen, said that for the timebeing a weight had been lifted off their shoulders.
“We have gone through a tough time and I am really happy that we now have the freedom to stay in the country we love,” said Somer, who received four As and a B in his Highers and is hoping to be accepted to the University of Glasgow next year.
“I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders because the threat of deportation was always in the back of my mind.
“Scotland is my home, I have grown up here, all my friends are here and I feel like a Scottish boy.
“I am very thankful to everyone who has supported my family and the people who signed the petitions – we could not have got to this point without you.
“But I am disappointed that we will have to apply to the Home Office for an extension in just two and a half years.”
Areeb, who is in his fourth year of high school, said he was “overwhelmed” by the news.
“It has been very stressful but Glasgow is such a lovely place, everyone is so welcoming and my friends at school have always been there for me,” he said.
“They will be really happy to hear the news and I am looking forward to a degree of normality and hopefully life will be easier because we have been opened up to many more opportunities.”
The outcome of their application is also good news for Mr Umeed Bakhsh, a Kirk elder, and his wife as they are now eligible to receive work permits.
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SOURCE: Christian Today