By Michael Ireland, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
ILFORD, UK (ANS — Feb. 02, 2017) — Have you left Islam and then suffered any hate crime or persecution? The British Pakistani Christians Association (www.britishpakistanichristains.co.uk) wants to hear from you for a study it is conducting.
The organization says the persecution faced by high profile Muslim background believers such as Nissar Hussain and Sofia Hayat, have shed light on the growing social malaise of apostasy hatred in Britain.
BPCA stated that in the curious case of Nissar Hussain in November last year was beaten so badly by two men with pick-axe handles that he spent 11 days in hospital — an act of violence that he believes was a premeditated attempt at murder. Nissar has had a vacant house next door to his previous home torched in an attempt to kill his family, suffered numerous vehicle smashings at an average of six a year, amounting to thousands of pounds worth of damage, and in November 2016 he was forced to flee Bradford, Yorkshire, under armed police guard because threat levels had reached imminent danger level.
BPCA has been working with Nissar and several other ‘apostates’ over the last year in providing safety, shelter and trauma counseling. Each of the victims have shared traumatic accounts of being shunned by their friends and families, attaining pariah status and suffered serious threats to their lives.
BPCA’s Wilson Chowdhry, in a message to ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net) said: “The UK Government has a duty to protect all citizens of Britain, yet many converts from Islam are having to run away from danger and rebuild their lives in secret, due to the growing social malaise of apostasy hatred.
“We hope our report, which will be submitted to the Home Office Minister, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime) and the Attorney General, will trigger a Government inquiry and will result in ‘apostasy hatred’ being listed within the Race and Religious Hatred Act 2006 and Government Hate Crime Policy.
“A copy of the report will also be submitted to the Association of Chief Police Officers in hope we can improve policing, policy, guidelines and practice towards apostates.”
Chowdhry said that in the case of Nissar Hussain, “years of persecution might have been avoided if Police had listed crimes against him as a hate crime rather than a neighborhood dispute. These failures helped create an impunity that Hussain believes magnified the frequency and intensity of attacks on his family.”
He added: “If you know anyone who has converted from Islam and is living in the UK or the West please share this post. We are conducting a hate crime study. Initially our report will focus on the UK, but will later develop into a more global study.”
As a result of such hate crimes, the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) is looking into the experiences in the UK or the West of those who have apostasized from the Islamic religion — those who have publicly made a split from Islam, whether it be that they announced it in some way, or people in the community ‘sussed’ (discovered) they no longer believe (or even, if they still remain Muslim in some way, but others in the community hold that they have apostasized).
BPCA says it doesn’t matter if they have converted to Christianity, to another major branch of Islam (e.g. Sunni to Shia), to atheism or to humanism, or any other religion. Of course, (we) welcome Muslim Background Believers for this study.
If you meet this criteria, BPCA would like you to get in contact with them if you are prepared to be interviewed about what you have experienced for a study they are doing. You can be be UK-born and bred, or from any other western nation, or an asylum seeker — the sole criteria must be that you have lived as a known ex-Muslim (or ex- Sunni/Shia) in the UK.
“We would also be willing to consider the experiences of non-converts who face similar situations — for instance Asian or Middle Eastern Christians who are shunned because it is perceived you should be Muslim. We will respect security concerns and anonymize as appropriate in any published material.”
BPCA (www.britishpakistanichristains.co.uk) will also soon (in the next week or so) be releasing an online survey.
Chowdhry said: “Whilst we will be interested in any type of experience, good or bad, we currently — URGENTLY — need to hear from those who have suffered any form of hate crime as a result of their leaving Islam (or being perceived to have left Islam). This means violence, threats of violence, restraint (e.g., being locked in rooms), overt levels of monitoring, intimidation, derogatory name-calling and so on.”
He stated: “We also urgently need to hear from people whose experience has involved incitement to hatred on social media, and what, if anything was done about such activity, and from those who have gone to the police or authorities and have had their situation handled in a less than satisfactory way.”
Please pass this message on to people you know who are ‘apostates’ from Islam, and to churches or Christian charities or equivalent groups — such as humanist societies, for example — who may have contact with “apostates” from Islam.
“Apostates” who are willing to participate in phone or email interviews about their experience are invited to email BPCA at email@example.com
BPCA added: “Please note that contacting us does not guarantee we can contact you — it is dependent on resources. In the initial email we to us, we would ask them to supply the following:
1) Full Name, contact details (phone)
2) If you have any really serious security concerns regarding initial contact (e.g. times they are normally safe and can speak freely, if we should use a code word)
3) Whether you would be willing to test an online survey to help us make sure it is as fit for purpose as it we can practically make it.
4) Very brief outline of the level of hate crime or persecution they have suffered in the UK – e.g. attempted murder, threats to loved ones, verbal abuse and intimidation, actual violence, vicious shaming, etc.
5) Whether, to their knowledge, social media has been used in any significant way to incite hatred against them.
6) If they have gone to the police or authorities (social services, etc.) and if so, whether they found the responses or action taken satisfactory or not.
Photo Captions: 1) Wilson and Juliet Chowdhry with former British Prime Minister, David Cameron. 2) Definition of Apostasy. 3) Wilson Chowdhry speaking at an event in London. 4) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael.
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