Asad, Tahira and Masroor Must Stay
Asad and Tahira Raja fled Pakistan in October 2004 because of religious persecution. The Raja family are Ahmadis, followers of this religion in *Pakistan are often victims of discrimination and targets of religious intolerance instigated by organised religious extremists. Independent human rights organisations have documented evidence to show that Ahmadis suffer because of their religious beliefs and that there is complicity by the Pakistan Government in the persecution of Ahmadis.
Asad was raised in a Sunni Muslim family. However, as he got older, he
found Ahmadi Muslim faith and eventually in 2000, he converted to Ahmadi
religion. His family and friends refused to accept his conversion from
Sunni to Ahmadi faith. This resulted in Asad being ostracised by his
family and his local community. He was also subjected to being attacked by
some relations and this ultimately caused Asad to be left homeless. The
local mullahs of Khatme Nabuwwat (KN) organised a demo against Asad,
classed him as an infidel and on 15/8/04 issued a fatwa against him - all
because he believes in Ahmadi Muslim faith. In 2003, Asad married Tahira,
a fellow Ahmadi Muslim.
In January 2004, Asad was attacked and beaten by a group of bearded men whilst walking home from work. He had to receive hospital treatment in Kotli. When released from hospital, he tried to report the crime to the police but found they were not helpful in dealing with his complaint. Thus, through fear of further attacks because of their religion, Asad and his wife moved house once more.
In September 2004, the KN circulated a letter
informing the Sunni Muslim community that Asad had now married a fellow
Ahmadi. The letter denounced Asad as an apostate who deserved to be
killed for his change of faith. The couple constantly had to move house to
avoid being located by the mullahs who issued the fatwa against Asad. They
lived in constant fear of being subjected to further attacks, taken to
detention or being killed. Hence why the couple had to flee Pakistan and
applied for asylum in UK in October 2004.
In April 2005, Asad and Tahira learnt that UK Home Office had refused their claim for asylum. The family say that they have never received any formal letter advising of this decision, and their lawyer confirmed that nothing had been communicated to his office in reference to this asylum decision. Asad and Tahira only discovered this negative decision when they received a letter from NASS in April 2005 notifying the couple that they would no longer be in receipt of any NASS support because of their negative asylum decision.
Since then, the Ahmeds have been living without NASS support. They have no income. They are living with their baby in a cold and unsuitable accommodation and are surviving on food parcels and charity.
Leaving asylum seekers destitute in UK is unacceptable treatment by UK Home Office. This traumatic situation is affecting their mental and physical health. The family are terrified of being removed from UK to Pakistan where they suffered so much in the past because of their faith. Now they are in desperate hardship in UK. Their lawyer in Glasgow has tried to apply to NASS to get their support reinstated. Their GP has also raised concerns about their medical health caused by living in hardship with no means to eat properly daily.
The Ahmeds have sent Home Office further documents, which are genuine evidence of their persecution back in Pakistan. They deserve to be granted leave to remain, and to be allowed to live a safe and settled life in Glasgow to raise their family without fear of further abuses or religious persecution.
Please support Asad Ahmed Raja and his family in their fight to have the right to stay in UK. The Home Secretary should review the family's asylum case thoroughly and fairly. He should ensure that the family are no more forced to live in inhumane conditions in UK. The Ahmeds are peaceful and decent people who are just asking for protection by being granted Leave To Remain.
How you can help
Friends and supporters have set up a writing campaign to persuade Tony McNulty MP Minister of State for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality, on the strength of the Asad Familys links to the community and the community's links to the family and the more than probable persecution they would suffer if removed to Pakistan, that they should be allowed to remain in the UK.
The campaign has drawn up a Model Letter (Word doc) which you could copy/amend, or better still, write your own version with your own comments. There is also a Petition attached (blank sheets can be photocopied).
The campaign is asking everyone to make copies of and sign the Petition and Model Letter (or to write their own), and get as many other people as possible to do the same, and return them to the campaign at the below address. When they have collected enough letters and completed petition sheets, the campaign will get them presented to the Minister for Immigration, by their local MP.
Raja Family Must Stay Campaign
C/o Association of Nationalities Support Unit (ANSU)
96/15 Grafton Place
Thanks in anticipation,
Geraldine Agbor, campaign secretary
* Background to persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan
While Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, their persecution is wholly legalized, even encouraged, by the Pakistani government. Ahmadi mosques have been burned, their graves desecrated, and their very existence criminalized. Since 2000, 325 Ahmadis have been formally charged in criminal cases (including blasphemy) for professing their religion.64 Between 1999 and 2003, the government charged scores of Ahmadis with blasphemy; several have been convicted and face life imprisonment or death sentences pending appeal. The offenses charged included wearing an Islamic slogan on a shirt, planning to build an Ahmadi mosque in Lahore, and distributing Ahmadi literature in a public square.
As a result, thousands of Ahmadis have fled Pakistan to seek asylum abroad.
Human Rights Watch June 2005
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