February 06, 2005

UK Muslim apostates cast out and at risk from faith and family

February 05, 2005

Timesonline.com.uk

Muslim apostates cast out and at risk from faith and
family

By Anthony Browne

While Christians who turn to Islam are feted, the
200,000 Muslims who turn away are faced with abuse,
violence and even murder



THE first brick was thrown through the sitting room
window at one in the morning, waking Nissar Hussein,
his wife and five children with a terrifying start.
The second brick went through his car window.

It was a shock, but hardly a surprise. The week
before, another brick had been thrown through the
window as the family were preparing for bed in their
Bradford home. The victim of a three-year campaign of
religious hatred, Mr Hussein’s car has also been
rammed and torched, and the steps to his home have
been strewn with rubbish.

He and his family have been regularly jostled, abused,
attacked, shouted at to move out of the area, and
given death threats in the street. His wife has been
held hostage inside their home for two hours by a mob.
His car, walls and windows have been daubed in
graffiti: “Christian bastard”.

The problem isn’t so much what Mr Hussein, whose
parents came from Pakistan, believes, but what he
doesn’t believe. Born into Islam, he converted eight
years ago to Christianity, and his wife, also from
Pakistan, followed suit.

While those who convert to Islam, such as Cat Stevens,
Jemima Khan, and the sons of the Frank Dobson, the
former Health Secretary, and Lord Birt, the former BBC
Director-General, can publicly celebrate their new
religion, those whose faith goes in the other
direction face persecution. Mr Hussein, a 39-year-old
hospital nurse in Bradford, is one of a growing number
of former Muslims in Britain who face not just being
shunned by family and community, but attacked,
kidnapped, and in some cases killed. There is even a
secret underground network to support and protect
those who leave Islam. One estimate suggests that as
many as 15 per cent of Muslims in Western societies
have lost their faith, which would mean that in
Britain there are about 200,000 apostates.

For police, religious authorities and politicians, it
is an issue so sensitive that they are accused by
victims of refusing to respond to appeals for help. It
is a problem that, with the crisis of identity in
Islam since September 11, seems to be getting worse as
Muslims feel more threatened.

Muslims who lose their faith face execution or
imprisonment, in line with traditional Muslim
teaching, in many Islamic countries, including Saudi
Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Yemen. In the Netherlands,
the former Muslim MP Ayan Hirsi Ali had to go into
hiding after renouncing her faith on television.

The Prince of Wales recently held a meeting with
religious leaders to consider ways to stop former
Muslims being persecuted in other countries, but
Britain itself is also affected.

Mr Hussein told The Times: “It’s been absolutely
appalling. This is England — where I was born and
raised. You would never imagine Christians would
suffer in such a way.”

The police have not charged anyone, but told him to
leave the area. “We feel completely isolated, utterly
helpless. I have been utterly failed by the
authorities. If it was white racists attacking an
Asian guy, there would be an absolute outcry,” he
said. “They are trying to ethnically cleanse me out of
my home. I feel I have to make a stand as an Asian
Christian.”

Yasmin, who was raised in the North of England, has
been forced out of her town once, and is now trying to
resist being chased out again. Brought up in a Muslim
family, she converted after having a vision of Jesus
when she gave birth to her youngest son, and was
baptised in her thirties.. “My family completely
disowned me. They thought I had committed the biggest
sin — I was born a Muslim, and so I must die a Muslim.
When my husband found out, he totally disowned my
sons. One friend tried to strangle me when I told him
I was converting,” she said.

“We had bricks though our windows, I was spat at in
the street because they thought I was dishonouring
Islam. We had to call the police so many times. I had
to go to court to get an injunction against my husband
because he was inciting others to attack me.”

She fled to another part of Britain, but the attacks
soon started again as locals found out about her. “I
wasn’t going to leave again,” she said, adding that it
was the double standards of her attackers that made
her most angry. “They are such hypocrites — they want
us to be tolerant of everything they want, but they
are intolerant of everything about us.”

With other converts, Yasmin has helped to set up a
series of support groups across England, who have
adopted a method of operating normally associated with
dissidents in dictatorships, not democracies. They not
only have to meet in secret, but cannot advertise
their services, and have to vet those that approach
them for infiltrators.

“There are so many who convert from Islam to
Christianity. We have 70 people on our list who we
support, and the list is growing. We don’t want others
to suffer like we have,” she said.

Although some are beaten “black and blue” for their
faith, others suffer even more. The family of an
18-year-old girl whomYasmin was helping found that she
had been hiding a Bible in her room, and visiting
church secretly. “I tried to do as much as possible to
help her, but they took her to Pakistan ‘on holiday’.
Three weeks later, she was drowned — they said that
she went out in the middle of the night and slipped in
the river, but she just wouldn ’t have done that,”
said Yasmin.

Ruth, also of Pakistani origin, found out recently
that she had only just escaped being murdered. When
she told her family that she had converted, they kept
her locked inside the family home all summer.

“They were afraid I would meet some Christians. My
brother was aggressive, and even hit me — I later
found out he wanted me dead,” she said. A family
friend had suggested taking her to Pakistan to kill
her, and her brother put the idea to her mother, who
ruled against it. “You are very isolated and very
alone. But now, my brother is thinking about changing
and a cousin has made a commitment to Christianity.”

Noor, from the Midlands, was brought up a Muslim but
converted to Christianity at 21. “Telling my father
was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I
thought he would kill me on the spot, but he just went
into a state of shock,” she said. He ended up almost
kidnapping her.

“He took drastic actions — he took the family to
Pakistan, to a secluded village with no roads to it.
He kept us there for many years, putting pressure on
me to leave my Christian faith. I endured mental and
emotional suffering that most humans never reach,” she
said. Eventually, her father realised that he could
not shake her faith, and released her with strict
conditions. “In desperation, my father threatened to
take my life. If someone converts, it is a must for
family honour to bring them back to Islam, if not, to
kill them.”

Imams in Britain sometimes call on the apostates to be
killed if they criticise their former religion. Anwar
Sheikh, a former mosque teacher from Pakistan, became
an atheist after coming to Britain, and now lives with
a special alarm in his house in Cardiff after
criticising Islam in a series of hardline books.

“I’ve had 18 fatwas against me. They telephone me —
they aren’t foolhardy enough to put it in writing. I
had a call a couple of weeks ago. They mean repent or
be hanged,” he said. “What I have written, I believe
and I will not take it back. I will suffer the
consequences. If that is the price, I will pay it.”

The most high-profile British apostate is Ibn Warraq,
a Pakistani-born intellectual and former teacher from
London, who lost his faith after the Salman Rushdie
affair and set out his reasons in the book Why I am
not a Muslim.

He recently edited the book Leaving Islam, but finds
it hard to explain the hostility. “It’s very strange.
Even the most liberal Muslim can become incredibly
fierce if you criticise Islam, or, horror of horrors,
leave it.”

He himself has taken the precaution of using only a
pseudonym, and lives incognito in mainland Europe. He
thinks that Islamic apostasy is common. “In Western
societies, it is probably 10-15 per cent. It’s very
difficult to tell, because people don’t admit it.”

Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Barnabas Trust,
which helps persecuted Christians around the world,
said that it was finding increasing work in Britain:
“It’s a growing problem. Today, conversion is seen as
linked to Bush trying to convert the world —
democratisation is confused with evangelism.

“The difficulty in Britain is the growing alienation
between the minority Muslim communities and the
mainstream Christian one. Christian mission work in
inner cities is seen as an assault,” Dr Sookhdeo said.
“We are only asking that freedom of religion should be
applicable to everyone of every faith.”

1 comment:

RGooty said...

While Moslems are - Impatient and Volatile,Xtians tend to be the opposite. Poverty and Illiteracy damns Islam while the opposite is true of Xtians.

If Xtian USA dares to take on Iran/Arabs, it will be as bloody as hell.