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Campaign for PM to give UK asylum to Catholic girl receiving death threats in Pakistan

Maira Shahbaz thumb.jpg - Banner image

A religious freedom charity is calling on Boris Johnson to grant UK asylum to a 14-year-old Catholic girl in Pakistan receiving death threats from a man who forced her to marry him, assaulted her and made her abandon her faith.

Maira Shahbaz, from the Punjab Province, is in hiding, having escaped from Mohamad Nakash Tariq, who, according to charity Aid to the Church in Need, kidnapped her at gunpoint in April with two other men who gang-raped her, filmed the assault, blackmailed her and forced her to convert to Islam.

Mr Nakash produced a document which he claimed was a marriage certificate showing he had married her a year ago when she was 13.

When the family tried to win Maira back, Lahore High Court ruled in Mr Nakash’s favour, saying her so-called conversion to Islam trumped all other concerns.

Her case is similar to that of Arzoo Raja, whom a judge decided this week should stay with her abductor. 

Four months after her kidnap, Maira ran away and Mr Nakash has now made death threats, accusing her of renouncing Islam. 

Maira's lawyer, Sumera Shafique, said: "Extremists in Pakistan consider her an apostate and will kill her at the first chance."

Shafique also said men have been looking for her, knocking on doors and asking for her whereabouts.

Aid to the Church in Need has responded with a petition to allow her to live in the UK. 

ACN UK National Director Neville Kyrke-Smith said: "It is urgent that the Prime Minister acts to save the lives of Maira and her family. They are in grave danger. We have a duty of conscience to act."

The Lahore High Court has ordered 24-hour police protection for the family but neighbours have warned that individuals are going from house to house, trying to hunt down the family.

Shafique said: "We call on the UK Government to grant Maira asylum so that she can rebuild her life, free from the ever-present threat of death."

Maira is still recovering from her abduction, saying Mr Nakash blackmailed her by threatening to release online a video of her being gang-raped.

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