Images of the protest have been lost whilst switching this post across from our old website to this new one.
Christians from across the UK converged at Bradford Town Centre on Saturday 5th December to show solidarity with Nissar Hussain. Mr Hussain, an Islamic convert was brutally attacked by two men on 17th November for quitting his Islamic faith in favour of Christianity. The masked men beat Mr Hussain with the handle of a pickaxe, and punched and kicked him during the unprovoked attack.
The attack left Mr Hussain with severe injuries, he was admitted to hospital for 11 days and is still recovering from a shattered knee cap and hand. The attack was caught on CCTV at Mr Hussain’s home but despite the efforts of local police no witnesses have come forward to reveal the identity of the perpetrators.
Nissar Hussain alleges that he has been a victim of apostasy (a term applied for those who change their faith) hatred since 2005. He has already moved home once from an area of Bradford with a distinct Muslim majority, to an area of Bradford with a white majority. However, despite the move after a 2008 BBC Dispatches programme, detailing the persecution he faced for leaving Islam, the persecution re-emerged.
Over the last year, Mr Hussain has had his car windscreen smashed six times at a cost of £5,000. His eldest son, a final year medical student, has also had his windscreen smashed. Read more (click here)
British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) organised a multi-faith peace rally in conjunction with Mohammed Fiyaz, also a Muslim Convert, who suffered persecution for changing his faith. Mr Fiyaz previously participated in a BBC Newsnight documentary on apostates, joined by two other converts from Islam who faced terrible ordeals for renouncing their previously held Islamic faith (click here).
At the rally, Christians called for the freedom of conscience, belief and religion to be protected. The event was meant to be a multi-faith rally, however several requests to local mosques yielded no participation from local Muslims. Mr Hussain was still recovering from the attack however his wife Kubra, son Issar a final year student in medicine, and youngest daughter were present at the peace rally. After the event Mr Hussain said:
“My family and I are humbled by the response of the British public. We now know we are not alone and thank everyone for their support, prayers and campaigning. I am sorry I could not join the peace rally but I was there in spirit and pray that this small action might bring a change in our situation.”
The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Dr Toby Howarth and Mohammed Rafiq Sehgal, President of the Council for Mosques, issued the following joint statement on the day of the protest:
“Recently Bradfordians rejected the hate of the EDL, and today we continue to reject intolerance.
“Bradford includes people who have chosen to convert in different ways: from no faith to faith, from one faith to a different faith or from faith to no faith. While we value our own beliefs and convictions, and we are aware of the pain that these choices can cause, we nevertheless affirm that freedom of belief is both a legal right and a God-given liberty.
“Bradford has a proud history of welcoming and providing a home to people from across the world and with many different beliefs and cultures. Today we stand as people of different faiths and convictions to say that we reject hate and violence, and that we encourage people to live out their choices freely and responsibly.”
“Freedom of religion, including freedom to practise and to change our religion, is a precious gift as well as a basic human right. We cannot allow that freedom to be attacked or subverted in this city which is home to people of many different faiths as well as those who are not religious. We need to be clear that hate crime, including religious hate crime, whoever does it and whoever it is done to, has no place in our city.”
Mohammed Rafiq Sehgal, President of the Council for Mosques, speaking after consultation with senior Islamic Scholars, commented:
“Choice of a religion is a private and personal matter. Any person choosing to follow a particular faith should be allowed to do that without fearing harassment, intimidation and violence.”
The BPCA believe that the rights for people to live by their own conscience and hold religious beliefs of their own volition are enshrined in international law. Article 18 of the UN Convention for Human rights states:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
This is mirrored within the European Convention for Human Rights and the British Human Rights Act 1988 which follows the European standard:
“Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
Despite ratification of these international laws, Mr Hussain believes that Bradford Police have failed him. He contends that until 2013 Police recorded the hate crimes to his family as Neighbourhood disputes rather than religiously motivated hatred. He is currently processing a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission over the failures by his local constabulary, who Mr Hussain believes through their negligence, have allowed his family to suffer fifteen years of persecution in Britain.BPCA is calling for changes to the Race and Religious Hatred 2006 to include a section on protection for apostates. They believe that ambiguity around laws to protect people who change their faith have confused police constabularies, who do not understand the severe hatred faced by converts from Islam. Wilson Chowdhry chairman of the BPCA iterated that the amendments should be additions to the existing legal framework.In addition, BPCA is looking to changes with policing protocol and practice which entail retraining police on trauma counselling for victims of this growing social malaise, improved risk profiling for victims, and a better understanding of apostasy. We believe police naivety failed to recognise this particular hate crime exacerbating the situation and leaving perpetrators with a sense of impunity, which culminated in a prolonged hate campaign through attrition that has thoroughly demoralised the Hussain family.
BPCA are challenging the UK Government to launch an official Home Office enquiry into the situations facing victims of apostasy, including asylum seekers, in the UK: How many apostates are there? How are incidents of apostasy recorded? What support do authorities give them? What are the UK governments’ policies to safeguard their legal standing with entitlement to protection from the state? How are communities, giving support to the alleged apostates being targeted for abuse and violence?
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association said:
“Sadly not one Muslim joined our multi-faith rally which dented one of our main aims to reach out to the Muslim community in solidarity and peace and to declare together freedom to adhere to any faith on one’s choosing. Attacks such as the unprovoked beating of Nissar Hussain and the knife attack at Leytonstone illustrate the increasing polarisation between British Muslims and the rest of society. This situation will worsen unless Mosque leaders and other Muslim leaders who believe in a more peaceful Islam do not expose the lies and scriptural corruption of Islamists. Video evidence shows the vehicle of the attackers, yet despite a huge police campaign the Muslim community has chosen not to share information with the authorities, this silence is deafening.”
Moreover, Mr Chowdhry explained:
“Although legislation exists for protection of religious belief in the UK local Bradford police overlooked a very obvious religiously motivated hate crime. To remove ambiguity the race and religious hate act of 2006 should now include an amendment that lists apostasy hatred as a criminal offence.”
“Churches need to be equipped in how to recognise genuine converts to Christianity. Hopefully this will remove the scepticism and suspicions that leave many apostates feeling isolated. In addition to this, churches have to remember their responsibility to protect the body of Christ so that in future victims such as Mr Hussain are not left to tackle such hatred alone.”
For a full and speedy recovery for Nissar Hussain.
His attackers will be caught and brought to justice
Protection for Nissar Hussain and his family.
Relocation will be possible very soon in order that they can finally live their lives free of harassment and persecution.
Provision for the family and that jobs would be found in the new area.
We will continue to do all we can to help Nissar Hussain and his family to escape this life of shocking persecution in the UK, but we can’t do it without you. Please pray and give what you can to enable them move to on to a life free from harassment and religious hatred. The family are seeking offers of temporary accommodation or help towards the costs as they have decided to relocate out of Bradford, where they find life is now untenable. They will then sell their home to fund a more permanent new home where Nissar will find employment again free from stress.
Your gift can be sent using these bank details:
Payee: BPCA Sort Code: 20-44-22 Account number: 43163318 Bank: Barclays
Ref: Love for Nissar Hussain
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Cheques should be made payable to the BPCA to our address: 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG. BRITISH PAKISTANI CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION is a trading name for BRITISH PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS LTD which is a charity entered onto the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1163363
With your support we hope to change the lives of millions of Pakistani Christians.