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'We are constantly receiving death threats': 14-year-old Pakistani Christian seeking asylum in the UK speaks in a video statement

by Kelly Valencia
Maira Shahbaz thumb.jpg - Banner image

A 14-year-old Pakistani girl, who is in hiding after escaping from her forced marriage where she was repeatedly raped, has made a video statement. 

In the recording, released by charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the young girl said she and her sister are "constantly receiving death threats" and that they are "extremely scared."


She also explained how her abductor, Mohamad Nakash Tariq "tortured" her by gang-raping and blackmailing her as part of an ordeal in which he forced her to marry him and convert to Islam

The video has been released to mark #RedWednesday, an initiative led by the charity ACN to raise awareness of religious persecution. 

This year, the charity has decided to focus all the event's attention on the 14-year-old's situation to help her case.

Last month, ACN launched a petition urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to grant asylum to the young girl and her family. The appeal has so far gathered more than 11,000 signatories.  

In light of #RedWednesday, the charity has also published a report on Christians unjustly detained for their faith. The introduction is written by Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was on death row in Pakistan before being given asylum in Canada. 

Asia Bibi wrote: "Today there are countless numbers of people who are unjustly detained - like me, their offence is the faith they refuse to renounce."

"We should not rest until the oppressor finally hears our cry: 'Set your captives free'," she added. 

Speaking to Premier, John Pontifex from ACN said: "Our focus is on Christians who suffer persecution, but by implication, we also draw attention to the plight of minority faith groups of different backgrounds of different traditions, all around the world, and we call for respect. "

To mark the day, ACN encouraged people to wear something red. "Red is the colour of blood, blood that is shared by the martyrs. But we also recognise that in the theme and colour of blood is the seed of Christianity" Pontifex said. 

"Red Wednesday is not just about darkness, oppression [and] feelings of despair. It's also about hope, about how together, we can combat this challenge. We can enable meaningful change for those who so often feel they do not have a voice," he added. 

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