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Nottingham vigil for family seeking asylum

27 November 2008

by Pat Ashworth

SUPPORTERS of a Pakistani family appealing against deportation held a vigil for them on Monday evening at the family’s church, St Stephen’s, Hyson Green, in Notting­ham.

Julian and Aima Singh and their 11-year-old son, Jonathan, have worshipped at St Stephen’s since fleeing Pakistan after being pro­secuted under the country’s blas­phemy laws last year. They were taken to Yarlswood detention centre for deportation, but were given a temporary reprieve after support from, among others, the diocese of Southwell & Nottingham (News, 31 October, 7 November).

The Bishop, the Rt Revd George Cassidy, has called on the Home Sec­re­tary to grant asylum to the family. Dianne Skerritt, equality and di­ver­sity officer for the diocese, and co-ordinator of the Rainbow Project at Hyson Green, said on Wednesday that people had taken them to their hearts.

“We had support for the vigil from Quakers, Muslims, and Sikhs, as well as Christians from several churches, and a lot of local people. They are a very good family, and people have really taken it on board. Being sent back to face a blasphemy-law charge would mean death for them or life imprisonment, and that would be catastrophic.”

Mrs Skerritt, who has enlisted widespread support for the family, is hopeful about a Home Office appeal scheduled for December.

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