UK Government conference on religious freedom triggers concern about apostasy hatred in UK

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London: (By Hannah Chowdhry)  The UK government hosted a human rights conference to urge increased global action on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) for all on 5th July.  Read More (here).

The conference brought together governments, parliamentarians, faith and belief representatives, and civil society.

National governments represented at the conference were invited to co-sign 1 or more of a set of written statements. The set includes an overarching statement on the conference itself and thematic statements covering freedom of religion or belief issues.

As with any Government conferences of this nature, the event inspired a number of fringe events and one that was of particular importance to British Asian Christian Association, was the ‘No Penalty for Apostasy & Blasphemy’ Conference at the Emmanuel Centre in London.  The event had a good attendance and was live-streamed across the globe.

At the event long term campaigner for Ex-Muslim, Nissar Hussain was invited to speak about the 17 years of persecution he faced in Bradford after finding Christ.

Nissar described how his family were abused daily for speaking out about the persecution they faced on TV, resulting in daily threats from the local Muslim community who had already begun to shun them.

The hatred towards them culminated in Nissar Hussain being beaten to near death by two men with baseball bats.  The attempted murder was only thwarted by the quick reactions of two Polish neighbours after they saw the assailants jump out of a vehicle that had been lying in wait.  You can read more  (here)

Nissar Hussain later at a church meeting in Ilford organised by BACA offered forgiveness to the attackers, while explaining the pitfalls that befall Muslims that choose to quit Islam.  Read more (here).

He then travelled with BACA to see the then Under Secretary for State for the Home Office, Karen Bradley, a meeting which later resulted in the false charges of harassment laid against him by ‘a local Muslim mob’  – as Mr Hussain describes it – being dropped by Bradford Police.  Read more .

BACA also used the meeting with MP Karen Bradley to highlight issues with existing Hate Crime legislation and readdressed during the UK Home Office Review of Islamophobia. Read more.

Despite every attempt to make the lives of the Hussain family safe in Bradford, BACA were advised by the Police in August 2016 that Nissar had to leave his home in Bradford within two weeks because the threat to his life was extremely severe. Read more (here) and (here [ITV]).

Juliet Chowdhry, trustee for British Asian Christian Associaton, said:

“I visited the home of Mr Hussain in Bradford several times, and was glared at every time and threatened twice.

“I was also present when 16 armed police officers helped Mr Hussain and his wife collect a box from their home.

“There was a palpable air of hatred that surrounded the family, and I believe they stayed alive due to the millions of prayers said for them.”

One of the four police vehicles that protected Mr Hussain and his wife while they collected a box from their home. It should be noted that all vehicles had 4 armed police officers as passengers and driver (a small army to protect against a significant threat).

With the help of several donors we were able to relocate Nissar to a safe house and then assisted him with the cost of relocation to a place fare away and much safer for them than Bradford.

At the invite of the BACA, Mr Hussain spoke at the first ever European Parliament event on Christian Discrimination in Europe. 

Mr Hussain, spoke to BACA about the recent conference, he said:

“I spoke about the horrors of Sharia enforcement against Ex-Muslims.

“People were attentive and seemed genuinely appalled at the treatment of those who quit Islam in the UK.

“Many visitors came to a realization of the extent and severity of apostasy hatred in our free and democratic nation.

“I hope, this results in a better recognition of the issues faced by persecuted apostates in the UK and some real change in hate crime legislation.”

Nissar’s vehicle windows or paint was scratched at least 6 times a year amounting to £1000’s of damage.

The event was also visited by Swedish Ambassador Ulrika Sundberg, Special Envoy for interreligious and intercultural dialogue, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed.

A group called ECLJ presented a report on ‘The persecution of Ex-Muslim Christians in France and in Europe’.

On their website, they wrote:

“Even though Sharia Law is not enforced in Europe as it is in many Muslim countries.

“The growing presence of important Muslim communities in major European cities poses a threat to the religious freedom of those seeking to leave Islam. “

“…converts from Islam face both family and community pressure.

“They are perceived as traitors, and the persecutions that they endure vary greatly.

The overwhelming majority will be criticized and insulted by their families and relatives.

But it doesn’t stop there.

“In many cases, converts from Islam endure threats, harassment, and even physical assault. In some rare cases, the persecution escalates into physical beatings, some of which prove fatal. ”  Read more (here).

Nissar as he recovers from the attack from an attack by men armed with baseball bats.

Juliet Chowdhry, added:

“When we first reached out to help Nissar after hearing about his plight, we realized how mammoth the task was.

“Nissar was beaten by the men with bats within weeks of our first meeting and the situation was dangerous.

“We fought with the rigmarole of an outdated police protocol and had historic hate-crime against Mr Hussain listed.

“Changes were made that ensure Bradford and other police constabularies will list hate-crimes against apostates more accurately in future.

“The Hussain family have recuperated well in their new home and God has blessed their lives greatly.

“We are glad Nissar continues this campaign, as awareness of apostasy-hatred must increase and legislative and more pragmatic changes to authority protocols are still necessary.”

British Asian Christian Association, continue to help those who have quit Islam find save havens. You can support our ongoing work by donating.

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