British Premier Theresa May has censured the refusal of UK visa to a delegation of Pakistani Christians. She echoed that her administration will certainly look into the decision to prevent Pakistani Christians’ delegation visit to Glasgow. Pakistani Christians were not allowed entry to the UK as they were invited by the Church of Scotland.
PM Theresa May while taking notice of the incident said that the Home Secretary Amber Rudd would “look into” the situation. The Church of Scotland had criticized the Home Office while asserting that the strict visa policy was perilously harming the development of Church of Scotland’s links with Christian communities from across the globe. The Church also complained that the policy is tainting its efforts to build relations with Christians from other countries.
Previously, The Church’s Presbytery of Glasgow had provided guarantee for two high-ranking delegates from the Church of Pakistan. These two senior delegates from the Church of Pakistan were invited to Glasgow as part of a connecting project between the Presbytery and the Diocese of Hyderabad.
The Church of Scotland further complained that despite the guarantee and that the Kirk has assured that it would pay for the trip of Pakistani delegates, the Home Office still turned down their visa applications denying them entry to the UK.
The Home Office officials said that they turned down the applications on the grounds that they feared the Pakistani visitors would overstay their visas and later remain in the UK as illegal immigrants. During the Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons, East Renfrewshire Member Parliament Kirsten Oswald questioned PM May if she explain to the Church “why its visitors are not welcome and what messages she thinks it sends to our faith communities?”
In response PM May said that the UK has a “very clear” visa system in effect and that decisions were “taken according to its rules.” However, the Premier added that her cabinet member Ms Rudd would “look at the case.” At the same time, the Glasgow Presbytery has been encouraging people to write to their MPs in order to show their protest towards this decision.
While remaking in this regard, Reverend Dr. Graham Blount, Joint clerk of the Presbytery, said: “We are encouraged that Kirsten Oswald has responded to constituents who wrote to her to ask her to raise the issue in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister’s response that the Home Secretary will take a fresh look at the case is welcome. We are hopeful that the Home Office will positively respond to our request for a meeting to discuss the wider issues involved.”
MP Kirsten Oswald expressed great hopes that the Home Office would definitely look at the visa issue “as a matter of urgency.” Previously, UK PM Theresa May had reiterated that Christians must be able to “able to speak quite freely about Christmas” in the workplace.
PM May had said “Our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of. I’m sure that we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith.” She further told by Tory MP Fiona Bruce that many Christians “are now worried, even fearful, about mentioning their faith in public.”