Denny minister and his family gain UK citizenship

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A Falkirk district minister and his family have won their nine year battle to become British citizens after fleeing what they say was “terrifying” persecution by extremists in Pakistan.

Rev Raheel Arif of Denny Old Parish Church linked with Haggs Parish Church says their new status means “freedom and equality” and that they are proud to be officially British.

The minister, his wife Humaira and their son, Rhea and daughter, Roshaan, fled Pakistan in September 2011 after Islamic extremists threatened their lives because of their Christian faith.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There was an attempt to have him arrested for the potentially capital offence of blasphemy at the secondary school where he had been vice principal.

Rev Raheel Arif of Denny Old Parish Church, his wife Humaira and their son, Rhea and daughter, Roshaan, gain UK citizenshipRev Raheel Arif of Denny Old Parish Church, his wife Humaira and their son, Rhea and daughter, Roshaan, gain UK citizenship
Rev Raheel Arif of Denny Old Parish Church, his wife Humaira and their son, Rhea and daughter, Roshaan, gain UK citizenship | Other 3rd Party

Rev Arif, who was ordained in the Church of Scotland in November last year, said: “For me to be a British citizen is freedom from immigration restrictions and having equal rights.

“It took nine years to reach this point but it was grace that blessed us with our new nationality.

“I am so proud to be a British citizen and looking forward to serving my Lord and community as one of them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I hope and pray that he will free us and our world from this coronavirus soon so that we get back to our routines,” he added.

Mr Arif, a graduate of Highland Theological College in Dingwall, was the only Christian out of a staff of 52 at the school in Pakistan where he worked.

What’s described as a vexatious complaint led to him being demoted to his previous role as a biology teacher, and his persecutors are then said to have turned their attention to his family.

In 2011 Mr Arif took his wife and children to Grangemouth to visit his cousin Rev Aftab Gohar, minister of Abbotsgrange Parish Church, planning to lie low until things settled down.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But when they returned to Peshawar two months later he says it quickly became clear his enemies would never leave them in peace, so they decided to return to Scotland and seek asylum.

Speaking after his ordination last year he said: “We were living a good life in Peshawar.

“We had a nice home and my wife and I both had good jobs but extremists kept threatening us.

“It was a terrifying, horrible situation and I was very scared.

“At first the threats were only directed at me and I thought things would calm down in time.

“But when people came to my house and threatened my family I knew that we had to leave.”

Related topics: