in his question, Mr Day asked:
“Many individuals who convert their religion or renounce faith altogether can be ostracized by sections of their community and even from family members, making them more vulnerable to hate crime. Can we therefore have a statement or a debate in government time, regarding what is being done to tackle anti-apostasy.”
In what was an extremely positive response Andrea Leadsom, Leader of the House. said:
“Well of course I think that all members across the house would absolutely respect the right for any individual to choose to worship in the way that they want to do and so I think he would have a lot of support from all the members, he may wish to apply for a Westminster Debate and I’m sure there would be a lot of interest in that.”
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On his facebook Mr Day, wrote:
“Today I called for a statement or a Government Debate about what is being done to tackle crimes motivated by anti-apostasy.
“This is a particular form of hate-crime where the victims are often the most isolated, in many cases having been ostracised by sections of their community and even family members.
“I know, and welcome the fact, from previous questions that the UK Government is working in partnership with organisations including Streetwise and the Anne Frank Trust to raise awareness of religiously motivated hate crimes and the importance of reporting incidents.
“Sadly however, anti-apostasy data is not recorded and this vulnerable group of hate crime victims are at risk of being overlooked in government strategies.
“A constituent who raised this issue with me, put me in touch with Wilson [Chowdhry] from the British Pakistani Christian Association who has conducted some research and evidence into it. I am grateful to Wilson, who I met earlier this week for sharing the details of this work with me.”
Mr Day’s call was triggered after a private meeting was held with British Pakistani Christian Association Chairman (BPCA) Wilson Chowdhry on Tuesday 18th July 2017. During the meeting Mr Chowdhry raised concerns about the rise in reported hate crime towards those who quit Islam in the UK and expressed his chagrin that the snap-election called by Prime Minister Theresa May had resulted in an early closure of a Home Office Hate Crime Inquiry.
On a ‘Parliamentary Business’ page titled ‘Hate crime and its violent consequences inquiry’ within the UK Parliament website a statement reads as follows:
Report published. Awaiting Government Response.
Due to the general election on 8 June 2017 the Committee has now closed this inquiry, Government responses to committee reports may be published in the next Parliament.
BPCA had submitted an “Apostasy Hatred” report as ‘Written Evidence’ to the Inquiry that consisted of several case studies from victims of severe apostasy hate crime, who had bravely chosen to describe the threats, intimidation and persecution they had faced and the lacklustre response they had received from statutory agencies in the UK.
One of the testimonials within the BPCA report was the account of Nissar Hussain whose family suffered 17 years of persecution in Bradford. The family reported an average of six car vandalism incidents per year, they suffered fireworks being aimed at their house, incessant daily threats and in 2015 Nissar was hospitalized for 10 days narrowly surviving a brutal attack by two men using pick-axe handles. Acts of violence that could be expected in
Islamic nations like Pakistan or Somalia but seem out-of-place and unexpected in the democracies of the west.
Moving home to another part of Bradford had no effect in reducing their targeting and during November 2016 the family finally fled Bradford with the help of the BPCA after being told by police officers that it would not be possible for the police to keep them safe due to a heightened level of threat.
Since leaving their home Mr Hussain has been forced to travel under a police armed entourage consisting of no less than four vehicles. At least four officer armed with semi-automatic machine guns are required to scour his former home before he and his wife are permitted to enter. On one occasion ITV filmed the significant security detail that protects the Nissar family during a visit to collect a box full of items. An incident
that is galling due to the visible inability by local police to control extremism in Bradford and the morale sapping hopelessness felt by a brave British family. The video can be viewed by (clicking here)
The report by the BPCA, was the subject of a review by Hardeep Singh an author for ‘Spiked’ a popular online current affairs magazine, and self-styled ‘metaphorical missile against misanthropy’. Their article titled ‘The bravery of the Ex-Muslim’ gained a lot of momentum and spoke importantly about the courage required to speak out about such hate crime. In his closing remarks Hardeep Singh, wrote:
“If you’re left with any doubt about the courage required to come out as an ex-Muslim, I strongly recommend you watch Deeyah Khan’s excellent film. You’ll soon realise these individuals are among the most courageous people living in Britain today. It’s about time we started to listen to what they have to say, because they are at the forefront of the battle to defend Britain’s most fundamental freedoms.”
You can read Hardeeps article by (clicking here)
Yet despite the obviously huge sacrifice by victims of apostasy hatred to BPCA’s submitted written evidence to the Home Office Hate Crime Inquiry, our report was ignored.
Section 4 of the conclusion of the Inquiry, read as follows:
4.The announcement by the Prime Minister on 18 April that she would seek a General Election on 8 June means that we have not had time to consider our conclusions on the wide range of issues raised during the inquiry. We hope that the Home Affairs Select Committee in the next Parliament is able to consider this evidence further and propose wider recommendations on tackling hate crime and some of the central issues that emerged in our hearings, including far-right extremism and islamophobia. We are publishing this short report in the meantime to address one aspect of our inquiry—the role of social media companies in addressing hate crime and illegal content online—on which we have taken considerable evidence and where we want our conclusions to inform the early decisions of the next Government, as well as the immediate work of social media companies.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
“It is bemusing that despite a huge level of sacrifice by so many long suffering victims, our paper on apostasy hatred for all intents and purposes was ignored by the UK Home Office. This only serves to uphold the belief held by apostates in the UK that statutory agencies are oblivious to their concerns or just simply apathetic.
“The positive response to Martyn Day’s question in Parliament gives renewed hope that our initial aim to bring the silent suffering of the UK’s many apostates into the mainstream, may still occur. However simply knowing about the issue will not improve the quality of life for these victims.
“The Government simply has to rethink how they tackle the growing social malaise of apostasy hatred in Britain. I hope that they take note of the many recommendations we provide in our report and use some of these and other mechanisms to safeguard religious freedom in our nation.”
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The full Hate Crime Inquiry conclusion and the submission from the various written evidences including that of the BPCA can be found by (clicking here)