London: October 16, 2015. (PCP) As the UK government prepares to record religious hate crimes against Muslims separately due to a massive rise in recorded incidents, some human rights activists are arguing that the government is missing a major phenomenon, possibly due to political correctness. What phenomenon? Religious hate crimes committed by Muslims, especially against those who have converted from Islam, or non-Muslims who are from predominantly Islamic ethnicities. On occasion, this phenomenon has appeared in passing in the national media consciousness and then faded out again. However, these activists say that for many, particularly Christians who are a minority in their own ethnicities, their experience of religious hate in the UK is a pretty continuous one, in some cases approaching the level of persecution in their ‘mother’ countries. It does not solely affect people who have moved to this country either, in some cases, it affects people born and brought up in the UK.
One such case is that of the Hussain family. Living life in Bradford, they have faced around 15 years of persecution because they are a Christian convert family. Persecution in the UK in the 21st century is what their children have known their entire lives including: assaults; stones thrown through car and living room windows; intimidation; false accusations to get the father arrested (the most recent being in March 2015); multiple vehicles destroyed; being forced to move house after an arson attack; and currently ongoing persecution stemming from one particularly influential Muslim family on their street. The family is of Pakistani heritage, and the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) was recently asked to take up their case. A BPCA reearcher, who wishes to remain anonymous, said:
"I had already been aware of the family from previous reports in the media, but when I started talking to them and reading the very articulate blog one of the daughters has set up in the last year that documents their experiences, I was appalled. The media did not tell the half of it. Her life might as well have been lived out in Pakistan, because what that family has endured matches reports from Pakistan – the continuous harassment, violence, the siding of the police – UK police, I stress – with the extremists persecuting them, telling the family that they ‘brought this on themselves’ – it is utterly appalling and it needs to be exposed. If I had been given this report with all locations removed, I would have said these events had to have been in Pakistan or a Muslim country."
However, he went on to say that while he was appalled, he was not that surprised. "I have seen similar cases before in other cities in the UK, and not even involving converts from Islam, but Pakistanis from Christian families who have been Christian for many generations. We don’t know how common these more extreme examples are, but we know these incidents are far from isolated. Many Pakistani Christians have to run a double gauntlet. They have to endure their children on the school bus being verbally abused as Christian "infidels" by Muslim schoolmates, and then also being told by whites to "go home you Muslims" also said with added racial slurs. In one case in Birmingham a Pakistani Christian family who gained asylum after fleeing Pakistan faced the same kind of physical violence and tactics here as they had in Pakistan. This happened within a couple of weeks of moving out of the asylum system and into council accommodation. The council had to re-house them. These were not converts, yet as soon as the nearby mosque found out they weren’t Muslims, the attacks started, including false accusations of desecration of the mosque, knife attacks and violence at their front door. I have been to stay with the family several times in their new home, and whilst I can’t go into details, I can tell you I have seen for myself a little of the appalling abuse they are being subjected to online."
He went on to detail how on one of his visits to Birmingham, both white and Asian Christians detailed no go areas where it was not safe for non-Muslims to go or even park. "There was a particular climate of fear amongst Asian Christians. One comment that sticks in my memory was made by a local Asian Christian leader: 'We know what they will do next. They will go for our children’. They were making preparations against attempts to convert their children to Islam by whatever means."
BPCA chairman Wilson Chowdhry said: "One blog post by the daughter which was so moving was a simple one telling of her delight and relief because the family got away to London to have one week free of persecution. Unfortunately, their story matches many others out there. There are many converts to Christianity who live underground, in fear. There is a reason that other Christian organisations have set up a series of safe-houses in the UK. We understand that in at least some cases, converts have had to not only change address and name, but even their National Insurance numbers, so great is the threat they live under. A very significant number of the so-called ‘honour killings’ in this country involve victims who have converted from Islam to Christianity. This whole area is far from a British problem as there are reports of similar issues across Western Europe – France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden and more. All too often the story is that the authorities do nothing, although in some cases, the Dutch and German police have put leaders of ex-Muslim movements under protection after such threats. In Sweden recently Christian refugees were so persecuted by Muslim refugees in the same state-provided houses that several Christian families felt they had no choice to leave and arrange their own accommodation at their own cost. There are repeated reports from across Europe of Christian refugees being attacked in asylum centres, and indeed at least one case where Christian refugees were thrown overboard from boats in the Mediterranean. There are reports of converts facing death threats from every area of the UK – London, Bradford, Birmingham, Glasgow. This is a nationwide problem that needs to be addressed."
BPCA researchers say that one reason that life can be so difficult for converts or other Asian Christians is the nature of the ethnic communities they live in, where extended families live in many cities. This means that you can flee one city, but be recognised by a cousin or similar in a city hundreds of miles away. Given that these are honour-shame societies and converting from Islam - or even refusing to convert to Islam – is seen as a matter of dishonouring Islam, it is not hard to motivate people to persecute those deemed to have caused such dishonour.
"It’s not just Christians or converts who face this problem" said one researcher "I’ve had a social worker recount a meeting of colleagues, where it turned out to be all too common an occurrence that when they had to take someone – usually a girl – from an Asian (usually a code word for Muslim) home to another town or city, say, 40 miles away, within a few days the street where they housed the girl they were trying to protect would be swarming with Asian men asking questions about the girl in question. I’ve also talked to someone who has some connections with security and intelligence, and he told me that in effect, very many mosques have a small secret police, and they all network with each other. This is exactly what happens in Pakistan when a Christian accused of blasphemy or a convert from Islam moves to another city or state – from mosques and family networks and extremist groups, the word goes out and within anywhere between days and months, they are tracked down. It is so easy and quick now. Send the photo by email or sms, and get people looking."
What is the Hussains' story? The father, Nissar, converted at quite a young age in 1996, and was disowned by his family. He moved from Birmingham to Bradford for a quieter life, a hope that was to be bitterly disappointed. His wife Kubra was initially shocked by his conversion but quickly converted too. His oldest daughter has blogged about what it was like growing up ostracised and isolated – initially she thought it was her birthmark, but it took a long time for her to realise that non-Pakistanis did not ostracise her over it, and the real reason was because her parents were Christian converts. She vividly recalls how they were denied play in the local common ground, and they couldn’t ride their bikes in the street outside their house due to abuse, but were trapped inside for years. Even in their garden they weren’t safe. When their father built a 6 foot high fence to protect them, still when they went out to play, bricks and bottles would be hurled over the fence at them. Multiple cars were smashed up and written off, and after dinner they were rushed upstairs to their rooms so they would be safe from bricks being thrown into the living room window. Pakistani children would tell her at school that "my parents say I can’t play with you because you are a Christian". Their walls were daubed with graffiti too vile to put in print: racially abusive and anti-Christian slurs. When she was seven (about 2001) she witnessed three men try to throttle her father to death. She describes how the family became numb to the abuse, walking automatons, but depression, anxiety, insomnia and bed-wetting blighted their lives.
About that same time when her youngest sister was born, with the car smashed again, her father borrowed a friends car to take her big brother to Boys Brigade. As soon as they were gone, a gang of local Muslims circled the house on foot and by car, trashing the property and hurling abuse, leaving the mother so traumatised she couldn’t even call the police. This went on for three hours until Nissar returned. It was the only time she saw him snap and attack, as he went after one of the ringleaders and beat him until his son stopped him. Within minutes, an enraged mob of about 30 Muslim men had gathered, armed to the teeth with wheel braces, and all sorts of other weapons to take revenge and storm the house. Nissar rushed to find a knife, screaming "I’m going to die today, but I will take as many of them with me as I can". The children and baby were crying, terrified, the mother called the police and persuaded Nissar to put down the knife. Even with two cars and a van the police were trapped inside their vehicles by the mob. Eventually, sometime after the mob dispersed, the police went on to arrest Nissar because there was "multiple independent eyewitness testimony" which all stated that Nissar had initiated everything, and they also claimed his arrest was for his own protection! It left the children deeply traumatised, and social services got involved. In 2003, after yet another torching of their car, Nissar was told that the same would be done to their house. The police response to the car smashing and ongoing intimidation? Nothing. They refused to even take a statement. And to the threat of arson? ‘Stop being a crusader and move out of the area’ they suggested and made other insinuations that they had brought it on themselves. Then Muslims persecuting them set fire to the empty house next door, and the family barely escaped, walking out into the street choking, only to find their persecutors at the top of the street watching, jeering, waving and clinking glasses in celebration.
By 2006 it was just too much, and they moved out. They couldn’t afford to move to a non-Muslim area like they wanted to, but they moved to the opposite side of Bradford (or Bradistan as the family hear Muslims call it). For two years they had peace, because they never corrected their new neighbours’ assumption that they were Muslim, and relations were very good indeed. But then in 2008, they agreed to speak in a documentary about what converts from Islam suffer in the UK. When the Dispatches program aired they were instantly ostracised, but they could cope with that as compared to their previous abuse it was not so bad. It was hard for the older sisters who had to watch as their younger sisters suffered the same ostracism and violence in school as they had. The youngsters were moved from school to school, but in each they would face the same vile chants of ‘Infidel’ and ‘kaffir’ and ‘Jew dog’ or ‘Christian dog’. One family three doors down, with at least some members with highly professional jobs, had taken it upon themselves to avenge the affront and stir the community to more than just ostracism (there were a few noble exceptions). The main new persecutor had a daughter at the same school as Nissar’s daughter, and told all the Muslim parents that Nissar was preaching hate against Islam on youtube – completely false, as one Muslim parent found out when he researched the issue and became a staunch supporter. Events escalated – continuous attempts to intimidate, threatening to kill on the school run to try and goad Nissar to retaliate so he could be accused of assault. It was like a mirror image of what occurred before. The younger children couldn’t ride bikes on the street because the persecuting family would jeer and curse and repeatedly put physical obstacles in the way, more false accusations and arrests and interviews under caution. If the mother weeded the front garden, the family would kick balls in, jeer, come in and sit on the garden benches. Family members who lived in other areas would come and park their car in front of the Hussain house so Nissar couldn’t park there. They mimicked the car smashing described in the documentary – it didn’t matter if Nissar parked the car in different areas in private cul-de-sacs so cut off that the police had difficulty finding it, or even at the local police station – the window smashing and the following them around to intimidate them continued. The cars are egged...the list goes on.
The police, the Hussains say, have been worse than useless refusing to acknowledge until very recently that any of this was religious hate crime. The Hussains reckon that after two large riots by Pakistani youths, who have evolved the tactic of crying "racism" and "Islamophobia" against the police to wear them down every time they investigate drug dealing and the grooming of white girls for sex abuse, the police have been cowed, and the attackers have an air of invincibility and press their advantage. Every time the Hussains call in the police, the police are intercepted by the persecuting family and pressured or told more lies. When they recently saw an attack on their car in the early hours, the police refused to even interview the perpetrator due to "lack of evidence". One of the brothers from the persecuting family was watching from 2.45am to 4.30am when the police arrived that particular day, conveniently. Despite the smashed windscreen, Nissar had to take his daughter to hospital for an operation, and as he was clearing up, a middle aged Asian neighbour walked by and said hello. The Hussains say this one greeting was like flicking a switch in the watching Muslim persecutor – he started viciously verbally abusing the man and forced him back. Nissar went to intervene, but his daughters started to video the abuse on their phones. The attacker, who was a youth worker with a van emblazoned with ‘every child matters’ then turned his abuse on them, threatening that he and the community to gang rape all the women and girls in the family, calling the 17 year old daughter a ‘b**ch'. The police did arrest him, he was convicted on several counts, but the charges of religious hate were – oh so conveniently say the Hussains – dropped in court. The intimidation and destruction has still not stopped, despite their persecutors having had several injunctions and other actions taken against them. They are at their wits end, and are pursuing official complaints with the IPCC and the police. They have video of up to 40 young Pakistani Muslim men standing outside their house to intimidate them, sadly an all to frequent occurence.
BPCA researchers notice other common themes in the experiences of the Hussain family that match what they see when dealing with asylum cases from Pakistan, some of which they find particularly disturbing:
"We can tick them off the list: Constant intimidation, death threats, sexual harassment? Just like Pakistan. Police inaction, siding at least passively with the perpetrators and refusing to take statements from persecuted Christians? Tick. Common in Pakistan. Terrible verbal abuse and slurs based on religion. Yes, just like Pakistan. False charges, constantly trying to provoke people and pretending to be the victim whilst actually carrying out persecution? We've seen that all too often as well.’
The BPCA have meetings with a Home Office official today (Friday 16th ) in which they will talk about the case of the Birmingham victim and other issues, and a meeting with New Scotland yard representatives about Nissar’s family situation next week. For a number of years, BPCA's Wilson Chowdhry has been a member of New Scotland Yard’s ‘Communities Together Strategic Engagement Team (CTSET).
In order to help the Hussains we wish to support them and raise the funds they need to enable them to move out of the area. They need to relocate somewhere they can live their lives in peace and escape the persecution they have endured these past 15 years. Both Nissar and Kubra have an unwavering faith in the Lord Jesus and seek to serve Him and glorify Him in every way they can despite the pain and suffering they and their children have gone through. I am sure that many of you are appalled that they have had this treatment in the UK and that this situation has been allowed to go on for so long. Let's help them to move on.