It hurts my heart to sit here and write about the hellish experience these past 15 years have been for my family. Those of you who read my very first blog post ‘Abnormal Normality’ ( http://infidelsareus.com/2014/08/01/an-abnormal-normality-2/ ) will know that I gave a brief insight into growing up as an apostate in Bradford. That abnormal normality continues to present day and it can be absolutely exhausting. I can’t fully express it in writing nor in conversation as you soon become numb to it, or ‘battle hardened’ as Dad terms it.
From the time I was 6 years of age, my siblings and I endured daily verbal abuse, physical altercations, car and house window smashing. School playground hostility and school-mate deprivation. Death threats. Mob rule. Initial prevention of riding our bicycles in the neighbour common ground to then prevention of us playing on the street directly outside our property. I watched my father’s effort in erecting a 6ft fence in his backyard to protect his children become effectively decimated. I can’t ever imagine his pain, his helplessness when his fence still never stopped the glass bottles and bricks being hurled at his children as they played in their own back garden. For example.
Our youngest sister was born in 2001 but the memory of her birth was overridden by an incident that has always stuck in my mind. Dad’s car had been written off yet again and had to use a friend’s car to take my older brother to Boys Brigade at a local church. He stayed with my brother, leaving me (7), sisters 5, 3 and a baby with my mother. As soon as my dad pulled away from our street the tirade of abuse and intimidation began. They had our home under siege, circling in their cars, trashing the front of our property with debris and swearing at Mum, who, unable to dial for the police on the phone held a baby in one arm whilst holding a phone in the other; panic-stricken and paralysed for those 3 whole hours. All of us were petrified, our eyes fixated on the men standing below the bedroom window.
Dad returned with my brother a few hours later, witnessing our tormentors speeding off and took in our frozen expressions. As my Dad called up to my Mum to ask her what had been happening, one of the ringleaders who lived 3 doors down from us, shot out of his car to make his way home. I don’t know what came over my father but he finally snapped. Years of having to endure pure, animalistic behaviour, years of police ignorance, fear and refusal to help one Christian convert family in the face of a bigger Muslim community had taken its toll on him. Over the years these anti-Christian men had witnessed police inaction and openly took advantage of their self-proclaimed domination and subjugation of us. Over the years they’d grown to be audacious and invincible.
Dad finally snapped. I remember looking at a man who had tried so desperately to abide by his Christian principles of forgiveness and mercy be overruled by the need to protect his four daughters. He lunged at this ringleader, laying into him time and time again until it took my brother’s plea of ‘Daddy, Daddy please, stop, you’re going to kill him’ to bring him back to his senses. As he picked himself off the ground and led my brother back to the house, the ringleader pulled out his phone. Minutes later 6 cars screeched to a halt outside our home, packed with Pakistani Muslim men from the local and surrounding communities.
Utter carnage followed. What must have been at least 30 men advanced towards our front door, armed with knives, wheel braces, chains and other weaponry I couldn’t identify as a 7 year old. They were seething and bloodthirsty. An infidel had humiliated a fellow Muslim brother and for that his whole family would pay. I distinctly remember Dad running into the kitchen searching for a suitable, sturdy knife. His words of ‘I’m going to die tonight, but I’m going to take as many of them with me’ echoes in my head today. What man would allow a stampede into his own home, into a living room containing 5 young children, 1 of which was newly born?
I shoved my younger sisters into the back kitchen and shut the door. Peering through the crack I saw my mother wrestling the knife out of my father’s hand, having already called the police. They were outside by now, two police cars and 1 riot van but due to the hoardes of people surrounding them, they were unable to get out. The mob had immobilised the officers. When they finally emerged and dispersed the crowd, due to numerous ‘independent witness statements’ alleging Dad as the perpetrators; they came and arrested him and it was the first time we’d witnessed our father handcuffed and taken into police custody. I couldn’t understand why the police had only arrested one ringleader and his sister especially given the context of the weaponry and the obvious intent to storm into our home. Being too young to understand that Dad would eventually be returned to us, we couldn’t be comforted and I was convinced I wouldn’t see him again. I felt a change in my siblings, we became officially traumatised. I can’t speak for my siblings but that day in January 2003 was when I lost belief in the concept of justice.
As children we were incapable of functioning normally and were all assigned personal care by Bradford social services for the next few years until it came to an end. It takes a Pakistani, an ex-Muslim to understand the mentality behind our persecution and the sympathetic faces and words of the family service unit could never penetrate into the heart of the problem.
Our family vehicle became accustomed to regular drive-by brickings, but not content with smashing the car, they torched it one night. The ringleader responsible for this walked up to Dad in October 2003 to spit into his face ‘you’ve seen what we’ve done to your car, now we’re gonna burn you out of your house’. True to form we were effectively burned out of our house a few weeks later. The property directly adjacent to us had been vacant for years and the lower window was broken into before the house was set alight, in the hope the flames would spread to our property. My brother smelt the smoke first, alerting my dad who ran out to the front of our home. Next door’s windows had smoke bellowing out, with the glass cracking under the pressure of the heat. He realised that the fire was intended for us when he saw our persecutors gathered together on the street, waving at him and jeering, clinking their glasses and celebrating.
The fire brigade came within two minutes of being called but not before our whole house was smothered in thick, pungent smoke that stifled our senses. We couldn’t see nor breathe and I remember locating all of my siblings as we collapsed on the ground, sobbing and choking. It is hard to take myself back to that spot on the living room floor, with our arms outstretched to the nearest sibling holding on for dear life, while we buried our faces into our laps. I remember thanking God my mother and baby sister had been away at a women’s conference for I was sure my then 13 month year old sister could well have been killed. We were forced to flee to the nearest vicarage for a week’s worth of safety and sanity, sat in a strange location with the only familiarity being that of the family photo albums my mother refused to leave without.
We were permanently forced out of our home in 2006 and enjoyed a 2 year break from daily persecution, getting on famously with the Pakistani Muslims in our new community, as they assumed us to be Muslims also. For obvious reasons we never corrected those assumptions. However we were thrown back into the net of anti-Christian venom in the aftermath of the 2008 Dispatches Documentary my family partook in entitled ‘Unholy War’, ( http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=unholy+war+dispatches&FORM=VIRE6#view=detail&mid=5294C275B2A23C9E534B5294C275B2A23C9E534B ) where it became publicly known we were a convert Christian family.
I will be posting an account of continued and increased persecution of my family from 2008-current day in my subsequent blogs.