I thought I had become too battle hardened, too desensitised to our situation. I thought I had mastered the art of pain. A lifetime of battling with the opposition governed by their hatred of us had generally rendered me unable to express my emotions, whenever asked to by my assigned child social worker back in the early 2000s. My sister’s phone call that Tuesday evening broke into that psyche, penetrating into my usual rigid state to absolutely devastate me; to evoke a rushing pain I had last experienced in the wake of my grandmother’s murder back in 2011.
The 17th November marked the fulfilment of every earlier threat by the same Muslim family, who had repeatedly asserted in the year and months up to the attack that they would get us girls, my mother and father ‘fucked by the Pakis’. Indeed one of those threats materialised. Casting my mind back at the sobbing girl huddled in the corner of her university library I would’ve told her that this attack had long been in the pipeline, by way of comfort I suppose – to counter the shock of the news. In that moment though, nothing would’ve provided me with a sense of security. How do you possibly articulate the despair and anguish that courses through you when the safety of the protector of your family can’t be guaranteed?
My 17 year old sister made the call. Before she alerted me she had spent the last hour watching re-runs of the attack on our cctv system before handing it over to the police. I heard the severity of the ordeal in spite of her downplaying of Dad’s condition for the sake of my sanity. I’m the worst person to convey tragedy on the phone. I become inconsolable and irrational. My mother was on the phone to her own mother back in Pakistan one fatal day in Feburary 2011 and heard the gunshots that eventually took her life. I’d prefer to see heartbreak than hear it through the phone. My sister’s phone call was well rehearsed but even she had failed to prepare for a messy conversation in which my screaming of ‘is he alive?’ became the constant; culminating in her giving up her brave front. Weary and subdued she assured me Dad had been in a fit enough state for his 7 year old son to stand by his side, stroking his hair for a full 20 minutes before the ambulance arrived. The trauma in her voice was evident and I couldn’t believe that it had finally come to this despite the previous threats forewarning an attack.
Not content with my sister’s assurances I continually bombarded my father’s phone until he finally picked up. We both knew he was in no state to receive a manic phone call from a panic-stricken daughter but we also know I have a very persistent nature. Sensing my urgent need to hear his voice he picked up his phone and after listening to my sobs for a few seconds, proceeded to lecture me on my inability to control myself – before conveying to me in a very matter-of-fact tone the extent of his injuries. His left knee-cap had been split into two in addition to a fractured left hand and severe concussion. He was to be pumped with anaesthesia before his surgery so the phone abruptly clicked off. My head was reeling with amazement at this father of mine – too tough for his own good sometimes – and who had felt the need to dismiss the pain he was clearly in, in order to lull me into a sense of security. Typical Dad. The man could be bleeding to death on the floor yet still find the time to assure his children of his well-being -even crack a joke -the very characteristic that brought a smile to my face in an otherwise overwhelming time of uncertainty. As you can imagine it’s impossible to express the extent to which my father is loved, admired and respected by us. Which leads me to something: I don’t like to be called brave. I have always maintained that my parents’ example of resilience and deep faith, their refusal to back down despite the cost, has created no place for fear in our household. I’m not the brave one. You lead by example and the example of Nissar and Kubra is all I’ve ever known. They never, ever flap.
It was my mother who advised me not to return home the same night, as she sensed my shock subside into anger. The orchestrators of the attack live two doors away from us and she demanded I calm down and return after doing so. Realising I wouldn’t be able to see Dad for another 36 hours anyway I relented. Anger eventually subsided into scorn upon every news update regarding the attack. How very convenient for the police to not only register our case as a ‘hate crime’ but now a ‘religious hate crime’. Interesting that prior to the Daily Mail article which pressurised the police to regard the situation seriously, the 8 year struggle had been dismissed as ‘neighbourly issues’. Naz Shah’s appearance on ITV Calendar News was particularly interesting. Our apparent MP came onto the scene to condemn the abhorrent act of heinous violence. I haven’t actually bothered to recall her exact words, am merely paraphrasing the usual politically correct drivel that is uttered from the mouths of so-called authority. Authority that has otherwise and consistently dismissed and denied the facts of our plight. We have been subjected to terrorism and had that been accepted and acted upon, it would have unequivocally prevented the hospitalisation of a 50 year old man.
However, as has been demonstrated in the case of Rotherham whereby the police, over a ten year period, had been aware of the rape/sexual grooming of predominantly white English young girls by predominantly by Pakistani Muslim men; the vile nature of the crime was finally recognised at the expense of substantial, irrevocable trauma and pain. Avoidable and unnecessary pain. Let the police handle our case with the severity and concern it deserves. It makes no difference to me what the outcome will be as the outcome will always be too little too late. My father holds the West Police force personally responsible for his attack. I too have no faith in the police. The refusal to arrest or bring to book key members of this family who have on a daily basis made life utterly miserable has directly resulted in a smashed knee-cap, fractured hand, concussion and the blatant deprivation of life. The most recent altercation occurred last Saturday where the family in question took offence at the Bradford vigil held in light of Dad’s attack. After the event, the participants came back to the house and as my brother parked up, one of the family members thought it appropriate to challenge him, trying to provoke him by mockingly inquiring the state of Dad’s health. Moments later he was joined by other male members of the family, dancing provocatively in front of my brother , goading him into a fight by cursing, jeering and using the state of our father against us. We continue to deal with a demonic family, a mentality sick and shameless to the core. The very sister who witnessed the attack and subsequently phoned me was followed to school 2 weeks ago by a car full of the same men related to this family of perpetrators, as they shouted out ‘how’s your dad?’ in jest before driving off. Every single incident to date has been reported to the police, who still have yet to arrest those responsible and for the life of me I can’t understand the lack of police patrolling in our neighbourhood.
This notion of ‘burden of proof’ is something I despise, the police have enough reel of cctv footage to construct a film, yet it is precisely this lack of action that has emboldened the perpetrators of the very animalistic and cowardly event of November 17. This parasitic fear of being labelled as ‘Islamophobic’ has prevented the upholding of the rule of law on the streets of Bradford, giving birth to the notion of impunity and this is being enacted and exploited on a daily basis. I’d be interested to hear from those newspapers who labelled the attack as ‘racist’ by nature when all those involved are Pakistani. The existing framework of Bradford’s corrupt political system is a real cause for concern. Speaking of corruption, I don’t understand how local MP Naz Shah gets away with scot-free. My stomach churned as I watched her spew lies on regional television, as I watched her feign concern for the welfare of Dad and the family. I took note at her aptness to claim she was fully aware of the situation and was particularly fascinated by the imaginary support system she’d conjured up for the purpose of TV dramatics. Apparently she had been notified by support given to the Hussain family and she herself had played a role during this ‘neighbourly dispute’. Naz Shah needs to do my Dad a favour and admit she never returned his e-mails, in which he asked for her assistance in this matter of religious hatred dating back to 2008. She needs to own up to the fact that despite agreeing to set up meetings, would fabricate excuse after excuse and never attend such scheduled meetings organised by Dad. All these e-mails and meetings can be accounted for and there is nothing more than Dad could’ve done to try to rectify this ongoing suffering. But it takes two to tango. It’s a shame the spotlight of the camera she so boldly lied under cannot expose her for the inept, indifferent politician she is. Is she refusing to show solidarity and take a stance with a family who happen to live in the very Muslim electorate that voted her into office? Corruption knows no bounds and neither does my disgust at this stage but I use this platform to unashamedly scribe my real and raw experience, however brutal it comes across.
A neighbourly dispute. Who brings a pick-axe handle to a neighbourly dispute? Disputes subside in the Pakistani culture as elders rally around the relevant parties to mediate and move on from the conundrum. Nissar Hussain is a living example of an ex-Muslim and it is this factor that doesn’t swallow well with Muslim families such as those who attempted to orchestrate his demise. His stance, his desire to fight his Muslim oppressors in a non-Muslim country has gained him enough hatred which culminated in an attempt on his life. If you watch the cctv footage you can see the pick-axe aimed for Dad’s head. I can’t think about what may have become of him had he been unsuccessful in blocking those blows to the head, nor if those two Polish men hadn’t been there to chase off the attackers.
Will the Churches wake up?
This Bradford attack once again highlights the failure of the Church. For too long now fear has grappled the Christian community, explaining the overwhelming silence in the face of Christian persecution, not just in Bradford but throughout the globe and particularly the Middle East. I’ve been baffled to read of supposedly Christian support given to us in Bradford. With the exception of the Barnabas Fund (an organisation that works with the persecuted Church/Christian converts) and a few key individuals who have remained steadfast during our ordeal, such reports of Christian support is largely untrue. The vicarage ten minutes up the road from our residence have conveniently turned a blind eye over the course of these 8 years. Let’s not also forget that the former Bishop of Bradford personally told my father he wouldn’t welcome converts to his Church due to infrastructural constraints. And yet it’s exactly this attitude that has created the underground Christian scene in the West, where many apostates from Islam fellowship amongst other believers in the discretion of their own homes. Precisely the problem with institutionalised religion: strip away dignified titles, high salaries and decadence and perhaps the basic needs of ex-Muslims fleeing for their lives and setting up covert worship sessions will suddenly become more real. I don’t see much difference between the Christian convert situation in Great Britain and Iran for example.
For reasons I cannot fathom, those who choose to be outspoken are seen as risk-takers, as inciters of trouble. The issue of apostasy is not considered a salient one, nor one that politicians dare to debate in the houses of Parliament. Therefore the petition to enshrine an apostasy law in the UK is an excellent and vital movement.
Moving on from Bradford
It has come at a great cost but I think even Dad has finally accepted that one man is incapable of changing a system geared against apostates such as our family. So as we undergo a time of review and reflection as to where to move away from Bradford please continue to bear our family in prayer during the uncertain and uneasy transition. After almost two decades of sustained persecution, every single one of us has simply had enough. We want peace and stability, we want the ability to walk outside our property to a car that hasn’t been smashed, a father that doesn’t get brutally beaten. We need to be able to breathe and move freely. Years of being caged and living in such tension has caused severe psychological issues which we all need to work through. Essentially we want our sanity back.
In this era of terrorism, totalitarianism and territorialism the issue of apostasy is more relevant than ever and the fight to combat it on our part will remain stronger than ever. I encourage as many people as possible to sign the petition below, in order to set a precedent for the passing of an eventual apostasy bill in which the protection of ex-Muslims can be guaranteed.
In 21st Century Europe, I’ve recently been reminded that it really is a matter of life and death.