In 2017, N. Lewis and I co-researched and co-wrote ‘Hate Crimes in the UK against ex-Muslims: Experiences, Effects & Recommendations’ . The full report is enclosed at the bottom of the page.
Given recent attacks in France and ongoing, divisive violence, I wanted to draw attention to religious and other minorities silently suffering in communities where heterodoxy is not encouraged. In times of terror, the world has a tendency to become tribal and individuals are guilty by association. We often forget about those who live in fear that members of their own family, religious groups and communities could kill them for not wanting to stay within the remit of inherited circumstances.
This is a brief snippet of the ordeal my family were forced through upon my parents’ conversion. We experienced anti-Christian persecution from 2000-2016 until we were forced to leave Bradford, the very city my siblings and I were all born and raised in.
Nissar Hussain (Real name, Pakistani Background, Bradford).
Summary: Nissar, his wife and his children (ranging from under 10 to early/mid 20’s) have faced close to two decades of sustained, vicious persecution for being converts to Christianity from Islam. It involved campaigns of violence, threats – including of rape, intimidation, harassment, spitting, drive by bricking, burning out of cars, and the house on one occasion, abusive graffiti, and attempted murder. The police, in his experience, were, at least until near the very end, more interested in getting the family out of the area rather than dealing with the perpetrators: the family has had to move twice, once within Bradford, and finally had to be escorted out of Bradford by 10 armed police officers.
Nissar is a Pakistani ex-Muslim Christian convert from a Sunni background. Born and raised in Birmingham, Nissar initially converted at 15 through reading the New Testament scripture in stealth in his bedroom. However, family pressure and threats caused him to backslide , until the death of his brother in 1996 spurred him into rededicating his life as a Christian.
Nissar had moved to Bradford by then and as his children were born there, members of his local community noticed he stopped attending the local mosque, his children didn’t attend Madrassah. Once news he had converted spread like “wildfire”throughout the community as a result of declaring his faith to a very close Pakistani friend who he befriended some years earlier, his family experienced instant contempt and hostility. Throughout the years 1999-2006, verbal threats, spitting and abuse, escalating to physical intimidation harassment on a daily basis to following Nissar or his wife on the school run. Nissar was set upon and pounced on on a few occasions in full view of his children, even put into a headlock on one particular occasion.
Drive-by brickings became the norm, as the family experienced regular damage to the front and rear bay windows of their property, in addition to the frequent smashing up of their vehicle. On one occasion, another vehicle was used as a battering ram to drive into Nissar’s vehicle (Sept 2002). A month later his car was engulfed in flames in the early hours of the morning (Oct 2002). Yet, despite his car being written off 3 times and hundreds of pounds worth of damage to his property, the police were more interested on having his family leave his local area than investigate further the overt hate-campaign against his Christian conversion.
‘It was clear in black and white really – literally so – black graffti sprawled across my window panes and property walls : F*** Christians, Jew Dogs. We had clear footage of these young thugs dancing on my car, putting my windows through, harassing my wife and kids for hours on end. I’d call the police and log every single incident. I’d get stopped in the street and get told ‘’You’ve seen what we’ve done to your car. Now we’re going to burn you out of your home.’’ Yet the police simply aren’t interested. I had one police officer lose his temper in my home to tell me ‘’stop being a crusader and move out’’, as though it’s that simple to just pick up and leave. My finances couldn’t permit it. The police simply are not the police.’
The threat to burn the Hussain family home did materialise, resulting in a forced expulsion from their area for a while. The vacant property directly attached to Nissar’s home was broke into and set alight, in the hopes the flames would spread across to Nissar’s house (Oct 2002). ‘I remember the smoke penetrating our living room, suffocating us. The fire brigade came in no time at all, but the kids were hysterical, crying and kneeling huddled together on the floor smothering their faces in their laps. Outside the local young Muslim men gathered outside on the opposite side of the pavement jeering and shouting and generally having a good laugh at the sight of the house fire as four fire engines and their fireman furiously went about containing the fire. We ended up escaping to a local vicarage to take refuge for a week.’
In June 2006, Nissar and his family moved to a different part of Bradford, where they enjoyed two years of relative bliss. ‘I didn’t tell the local Muslims I was a convert Christian for obvious reasons. The few families living there just assumed us to be another Pakistani Muslim family and were elated we had moved there and I was in no rush to correct them.’
However, Nissar was approached by the Channel 4 documentary programme ‘Dispatches’, who were looking to investigate the experiences and treatment of apostates from Islam within Britain and who had come across Nissar’s ordeal through reading about him in the local and national newspapers. Reeling from the fresh, raw persecution over the last six years and feeling a sense of duty and passion for the Christian convert cause, Nissar agreed to take part in the filming of the 2008 documentary ‘Unholy War’. However, it was this very exposure that reignited the persecution and the family were soon subjected to the same kind of anti-Christian persecution they had just left behind which was instigated and orchestrated by a neighbouring clan family who initially welcomed them, but now with their “instant contempt” were doing their best to drive the family from their home in a similar way to what had happened at the previous location.
Between 2008-2014, the social ostracism and hostility from many of the Muslim families in the area soon turned into verbal abuse, fronted by this clan family. Nissar’s car windows were put through eight times during these years and the family endured verbal threats and abuse.
‘Nobody in my family were safe. I’d be out early in the morning, picking up shards of broken glass off the streets, due to the fact this demented family has orchestrated smashing my car up for the umpteenth time. My girls came out to watch over me this particular time and one of the chief perpetrators was already out and about conspicuously, conveniently inspecting his and his brothers’ cars, despite it being 4 am in the morning. It didn’t take him long to launch into his usual verbally abusive tirade with impunity and without any fear or consequences of the Law, when he saw a few of us gathered by the car. The girls whipped out their phones to record him – we were fed up being told by the police there was insufficient evidence to make arrests – and he was screaming blue murder, ‘’I’m going to get your girls f***ed by the Pakistanis! Your wife, mothers and sisters too!’’ ‘
The prosecution of this abusive man, although only for a slight public order offence, sparked the catalyst for an intensified campaign for retribution and to force the Hussains from their home for a second time. Numerous physical altercations would become the norm, where more and men from this large extended family would drive by the house, swear and follow Nissar’s wife and girls on their school run – it became almost a daily occurrence.
‘They would openly threaten me and my family, telling us point-blank we were not welcome here, that we should never have moved into the area, or Bradford per se. It was daily warfare, constant mob rule. I had 50 people stood outside my property one day, the usual intimidatory tactic and I bolted my door for fear for our lives, whilst screaming on the phone to the police that they had to send someone down immediately. So what do they do? They send a PCSO, who after viewing the footage, dismissed it as nothing more than a extended gathering! Gathering? I have a mob outside, pointing up at my house windows, circling my car and taking note of my registration plate and it’s apparently ‘a gathering’. We’ve been contending with this two-tier battle, this two-tier system of political correctness that is terrified of being labelled and racist ; that refuses to confront with Islamic intolerance and radicalisation per se – not just where apostasy is concerned. It’s exactly the political liberalism gone wrong that facilitated the systematic rape of 1,400 girls in Rotherham. In Bradford, there have been two race riots concerning the Pakistanis and police and so the local authorities are petrified of disturbing what they term ‘race-relations’. I’d even called them up on numerous occasions to relay that I’ve had another chief member of this family state he’s planning to have me beat up and in the presence of an independent witness. They are categorically uninterested, as is my local MP and council, all voted in through the Muslim electorate (baradari system) and whose loyalty definitely does not reside with a convert Christian.’
Nissar’s warnings to the police materialised. On 17 November, 2015 as Nissar was making his way to his car, two men ambushed him and beat him with a pick axe handle – smashing his kneecap and breaking his hand, leaving him hospitalised for 11 days. The police released a video of the attack on their website, ‘conveniently labelled the attack as religiously motivated when all these years prior, it was termed a neighbourly dispute. I was sickened to watch from my hospital bed, the MP Naz Shah, supposedly ‘my’ MP, tell the world that the attack on me was mmerely a result of a ‘neighbourhood dispute’. The system has really been against us from all sides. I truly realised that we were going to get no help whatsoever from the authorities, particularly when the police shut down their investigations regarding the attack 4/5 weeks after it occurred, due to insufficient evidence and without informing me: I found out by accident whilst ringing CID to enquire of them. I now had to focus on getting my family to safer shores – I didn’t know who they would target next.’
Nissar and his family have since moved into a safe house as of November 2016 in dramatic circumstances: 10-Armed Response Officers descended upon our home as they had received “credible intelligence to suggest our lives were at risk.” Nissar, naturally, remains an avid campaigner for safe houses for Christian converts in Britain. ‘It really has come to this, the police, Church (CoE) and local politicians have failed. They are in denial regarding the apostasy issue in the first place and wouldn’t know the first thing about the tribal/cultural/religious mindset if it hit them in the face. Their reserved, refined English mentalities could never comprehend what the ex-Muslim endures in this country also the Police and “Powers that be” are extremely nervous and fearful of causing “race relations issues” and add to the mix Political Correctness and you get Islam also Shariah “unhinged” and running rampant the length and breadth of this Country and a “two-tier Law system.” Never in my life, having been born and raised in this country – as someone who was taught to take on British values and for someone who is proud to be British – never in my life did I think it would come to this. It is a national disgrace and a total betrayal of this Country for those of us who leave Islam and especially for those who convert to Christianity’.