FIFTEEN leading religious figures have petitioned the Home Office to prevent the deportation of a Christian family seeking asylum in Scotland.

Brothers Somer and Areeb Umeed Bakhsh fled to Glasgow from Pakistan with parents Maqsood and Parveen in 2012.

Maqsood, a data analyst, was subject to death threats from Islamic extremists and feared, despite having moved around the country, his family was no longer safe.

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Since arriving in Glasgow, the boys, aged 15 and 13, have achieved good grades and dream of studying physics subjects at university.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described the pair, who were 9 and 7 when they came to Glasgow, as a “credit” to their community, school and the country.

And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the “wonderful” family have much to offer the UK.

Now 13 former Moderators and six other leaders from denominations including the Roman Catholic Church and Scottish Episcopal Church have signed an open letter by current Moderator, the Rt Rev Susan Brown, calling on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to re-examine the family’s case.

It asks the UK Government to recognise the danger they would face if they are sent back to their country of origin.

It has repeatedly rejected the family’s plea for asylum, largely because officials do not believe they would be at risk if they moved to a different part of Pakistan.

But Brown, a Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen, wrote: “We urge the UK Government to examine this case again and recognise the Pakistan-wide threat that the family faces.

“We are even more concerned for the well-being of two young boys who have found a home in Scotland.

“Somer and Areeb are flourishing and, despite the stresses the family is under and the conditions in which they live, deem Scotland their home.

“The boys have thrived here and more than 88,000 people have signed a 38 Degrees petition which has been handed into the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement Reporting Centre in Glasgow.”

It goes on: “With all respect, we urge you and through you, the Home Office, to step in and allow this family to play their part in serving a nation they very much feel a part of and want to contribute to.”

Signatories include Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley and Bishop Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, as well as United Free Church Moderator John Cross and Rev Dr David Easton, chair of the Synod of the Methodist Church in Scotland.

Somer, who is studying for his Highers, said: “I love Scotland and I do not want to go back to Pakistan.

“The thought of it terrifies me and it is very stressful to even imagine going back there.

“I want to live here in Scotland, it is my country and my home.”

Areeb, who has a passion for art and astronomy, said: “I am scared to go back to Pakistan. I can’t imagine living a normal life there. Here, I am getting the right education and our lives are not under threat.”