Sustained Persecution of Hussain family: 2000-2006

It hurts my heart to sit here and write about the hellish experience these past 15 years have been for my family. Those of you who read my very first blog post ‘Abnormal Normality’  (  ) will know that I gave a brief insight into growing up as an apostate in Bradford. That abnormal normality continues to present day and it can be absolutely exhausting. I can’t fully express it in writing nor in conversation as you soon become numb to it, or ‘battle hardened’ as Dad terms it.
From the time I was 6 years of age, my siblings and I endured daily verbal abuse, physical altercations, car and house window smashing. School playground hostility and school-mate deprivation. Death threats. Mob rule. Initial prevention of riding our bicycles in the neighbour common ground to then prevention of us playing on the street directly outside our property. I watched my father’s effort in erecting a 6ft fence in his backyard to protect his children become effectively decimated. I can’t ever imagine his pain, his helplessness when his fence still never stopped the glass bottles and bricks being hurled at his children as they played in their own back garden. For example.
Our youngest sister was born in 2001 but the memory of her birth was overridden by an incident that has always stuck in my mind. Dad’s car had been written off yet again and had to use a friend’s car to take my older brother to Boys Brigade at a local church. He stayed with my brother, leaving me (7), sisters 5, 3 and a baby with my mother. As soon as my dad pulled away from our street the tirade of abuse and intimidation began. They had our home under siege, circling in their cars, trashing the front of our property with debris and swearing at Mum, who, unable to dial for the police on the phone held a baby in one arm whilst holding a phone in the other; panic-stricken and paralysed for those 3 whole hours. All of us were petrified, our eyes fixated on the men standing below the bedroom window.
Dad returned with my brother a few hours later, witnessing our tormentors speeding off and took in our frozen expressions. As my Dad called up to my Mum to ask her what had been happening, one of the ringleaders who lived 3 doors down from us, shot out of his car to make his way home. I don’t know what came over my father but he finally snapped. Years of having to endure pure, animalistic behaviour, years of police ignorance, fear and refusal to help one Christian convert family in the face of a bigger Muslim community had taken its toll on him. Over the years these anti-Christian men had witnessed police inaction and openly took advantage of their self-proclaimed domination and subjugation of us. Over the years they’d grown to be audacious and invincible.
Dad finally snapped. I remember looking at a man who had tried so desperately to abide by his Christian principles of forgiveness and mercy be overruled by the need to protect his four daughters. He lunged at this ringleader, laying into him time and time again until it took my brother’s plea of ‘Daddy, Daddy please, stop, you’re going to kill him’ to bring him back to his senses. As he picked himself off the ground and led my brother back to the house, the ringleader pulled out his phone. Minutes later 6 cars screeched to a halt outside our home, packed with Pakistani Muslim men from the local and surrounding communities.
Utter carnage followed. What must have been at least 30 men advanced towards our front door, armed with knives, wheel braces, chains and other weaponry I couldn’t identify as a 7 year old. They were seething and bloodthirsty. An infidel had humiliated a fellow Muslim brother and for that his whole family would pay. I distinctly remember Dad running into the kitchen searching for a suitable, sturdy knife. His words of ‘I’m going to die tonight, but I’m going to take as many of them with me’ echoes in my head today. What man would allow a stampede into his own home, into a living room containing 5 young children, 1 of which was newly born?
I shoved my younger sisters into the back kitchen and shut the door. Peering through the crack I saw my mother wrestling the knife out of my father’s hand, having already called the police. They were outside by now, two police cars and 1 riot van but due to the hoardes of people surrounding them, they were unable to get out. The mob had immobilised the officers. When they finally emerged and dispersed the crowd, due to numerous ‘independent witness statements’ alleging Dad as the perpetrators; they came and arrested him and it was the first time we’d witnessed our father handcuffed and taken into police custody. I couldn’t understand why the police had only arrested one ringleader and his sister especially given the context of the weaponry and the obvious intent to storm into our home. Being too young to understand that Dad would eventually be returned to us, we couldn’t be comforted and I was convinced I wouldn’t see him again. I felt a change in my siblings, we became officially traumatised. I can’t speak for my siblings but that day in January 2003 was when I lost belief in the concept of justice.
As children we were incapable of functioning normally and were all assigned personal care by Bradford social services for the next few years until it came to an end. It takes a Pakistani, an ex-Muslim to understand the mentality behind our persecution and the sympathetic faces and words of the family service unit could never penetrate into the heart of the problem.
Our family vehicle became accustomed to regular drive-by brickings, but not content with smashing the car, they torched it one night. The ringleader responsible for this walked up to Dad in October 2003 to spit into his face ‘you’ve seen what we’ve done to your car, now we’re gonna burn you out of your house’. True to form we were effectively burned out of our house a few weeks later. The property directly adjacent to us had been vacant for years and the lower window was broken into before the house was set alight, in the hope the flames would spread to our property. My brother smelt the smoke first, alerting my dad who ran out to the front of our home. Next door’s windows had smoke bellowing out, with the glass cracking under the pressure of the heat. He realised that the fire was intended for us when he saw our persecutors gathered together on the street, waving at him and jeering, clinking their glasses and celebrating.
The fire brigade came within two minutes of being called but not before our whole house was smothered in thick, pungent smoke that stifled our senses. We couldn’t see nor breathe and I remember locating all of my siblings as we collapsed on the ground, sobbing and choking. It is hard to take myself back to that spot on the living room floor, with our arms outstretched to the nearest sibling holding on for dear life, while we buried our faces into our laps. I remember thanking God my mother and baby sister had been away at a women’s conference for I was sure my then 13 month year old sister could well have been killed. We were forced to flee to the nearest vicarage for a week’s worth of safety and sanity, sat in a strange location with the only familiarity being that of the family photo albums my mother refused to leave without.
We were permanently forced out of our home in 2006 and enjoyed a 2 year break from daily persecution, getting on famously with the Pakistani Muslims in our new community, as they assumed us to be Muslims also. For obvious reasons we never corrected those assumptions. However we were thrown back into the net of anti-Christian venom in the aftermath of the 2008 Dispatches Documentary my family partook in entitled ‘Unholy War’,  ( ) where it became publicly known we were a convert Christian family.
I will be posting an account of continued and increased persecution of my family from 2008-current day in my subsequent blogs.

Iran’s Saeed Abedini: A Crime of Christianity

With the exception of the United States, most countries have remained silent while Pastor Saeed Abedini continues to languish in a prison cell, as has been his circumstance since the summer of 2012. I stumbled across his plight a few months ago when scrolling through articles on the CBN webpage. As I scoured through numerous articles detailing his suffering I couldn’t help but feel enraged and betrayed, at how such treatment of a man – whose only crime is his Christianity – could go largely unreported and unpublicised. His story is yet another example of not only political failure, but also a failure of Christendom. Yet again, global leaders have not significantly come together to draw attention to the anti-Christian actions of the Iranian regime, nor to pressurise Iran to abide by its own constitution which recognises Christianity as minority religion.
Global leaders, particularly those who claim to be Christian should not be afraid, nor gingerly approach the sheer discrimination and disregard non-Muslims in Islamic nations are facing, particularly as such leaders afford their Muslim populations ultimate freedom in order to practise their beliefs. Western leaders should be apt to state that if Iranians are awarded the right to practise their Muslim faith in non-Muslim territory, why can’t the same be said for Iran’s non-Muslims in Shia-dom?
Instead, Saeed Abedini’s situation has demonstrated once again that tepidness, that reluctance, that political correctness/weakness. That lack of courage and boldness of our David Camerons, our Barack Obamas, these so-called men of ‘faith’ to publicly express solidarity with the persecuted Saeed Abedinis of the world. To commit themselves to the freedom of these imprisoned minorities in order to deter Islamic regimes from repetitive discrimination, as opposed to rendering such oppressed people helpless; a tacit approval to intolerant authorities who are at liberty to beat, torture and maim those under their charge, who refuse to recant their faith in order to guarantee their survival .
Saeed is a former Muslim who converted to Christianity in 2000. While the minority faith is in theory recognised in the Iranian constitution, in reality Muslim converts suffer discrimination by Iran’s authorities. Converts are disallowed from worshipping or gathering together in fellowship in established churches, forcing many of them to instead opt for ‘house’ or ‘underground’ churches in order to practise their faith more freely. Abedini married his Iranian-American wife Naghmeh in 2002 and subsequently became prominent in the house-church movement in Iran, credited with establishing around 100 house churches in 30 cities. However, in the aftermath of Ahmed Ahmedinejad’s elective victory in 2005, a severe and repression crackdown of such a movement began which led to the Abedini couple returning to the US.
Saeed returned to Iran to visit his family and was apprehended by government authorities who threatened to kill him during an interrogation concerning his conversion, but was released upon him signing a pledge to cease all house-church activity throughout Iran. However, the present turmoil of the Abedini family was to begin in the summer of 2012, when Saeed returned to Iran yet again to visit family and resume his work in building an orphanage in the city of Rasht. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confiscated and placed him under house arrest until he was later transferred to Evin Prison. In January 2013 it was reported that Abedini would be trialled and could potentially face the death penalty. His charges consisted of comprising national security and attempting to sway the Iranian youth from Islam, though of course specific detail were never publicised, due to the fact that the sole and crucial reason Abedini was detained in the first place was on account of his Christianity. Saeed was transferred from Tehran to the Rajani Shahr Prison in November 2013, in addition to being completely cut off from any contact with his wife and two young children in the United States.
Rajani Shahr is a notorious prison within Iran, where inmate violence, executions and beatings are commonplace and therefore to remain in denial of the persecution and intolerance of non-Muslims throughout the Islamic world is unequivocally unacceptable. The fact that a Christian has been transferred to a prison entailing serious offenders, with harsh, penal and life-threatening conditions speaks for itself. Saeed’s immediate family in Tehran have spoken of his deteriorating health, of the denial of vital medical treatment for the infections brought about by severe beatings – all of which has mostly fallen upon deaf ears and international ignorance and inaction.
Abedini was refused treatment in Evin Prison due to being regarded as an ‘unclean infidel’. In early 2013, Saeed’s internal injuries became too much of a concern with doctors stressing they warranted immediate attention at a non-prison hospital. The Iranian regime ignored such warnings for almost a year, whilst his health continued to rapidly disintegrate. In March 2014, Abedini was granted treatment at a private hospital but was returned to prison without the surgery deemed necessary by expert opinion.
Pastor Saeed Abedini continues to experience physical and psychological trauma, shacked up in a penal prison, enduring systemic beatings and a witness to inmate executions. A man imprisoned for his faith and ignored by the international community at large. However, the crucial underlying fact remains: while the story of the Abedini family deeply moves and troubles me – a fellow Christian who has come to know her own version of persecution – Abedini’s story echoes every jailed Christian within the Muslim world. Christians in the Islamic world struggle for their survival while world leaders go about their daily lives, prioritising oil deals and signing policies concerning arms and weapons to the very nations that brutally repress the very citizens that share the same faith some of these leaders apparently follow.
I cannot imagine the misery and pain of his children, the uncertainty and dashes of hope his wife and family have been plunged in since 2012. The resilience, courage and faith displayed by his beautiful wife Naghmeh is truly remarkable and is a personal testament to true Christian faith and those persecuted believers around her. At this time where nothing is guaranteed, I will continue to uplift Abedini families in prayer and thought; realising the only crime such a people ever commit is the conscious decision to become a disciple of Christ.

The Territorial Spirit that is Puritanical Islam

The territorial spirit that underlies the Islamic faith has been playing on my mind for too long now and so I decided to share it with the wider world, enough of whom I feel are quite oblivious to it. It never ceases to amaze me when non-Muslims in particular gear up in defence of Islam regarding the territorial issue. Throwing aside the very mechanism through which Islam effectively spread globally and fast-tracking to present day, I cannot help but feel disgusted at the blatant ignorance displayed by these Muslim-sympathisers. To such people, unless Muslims are going round, in a land-grabbing surge then it is unjust to label Islam as territorial. These ignorant people have clearly missed the Islamic State story but that is not what this post will focus on.
The key word in my message is territorial spirit, not the physical seizing of property. The spirit behind Islam’s territorial nature is something I have experienced most of my recollected life. The name ‘Islam‘ itself means ‘submit’, with  the need to dominate, the need to maintain and preserve Islam. Utter tyranny. A creation of an Islamic State.
The territorial nature of Islam is entwined within politics also, where a zero sum game is played in Islam’s favour. Muslims are not expected to allow a non-believer to rule over them, let alone defy them. Puritanical Islam’s tyranny – a cruel and unjust application of force and power over those who do not adhere to its ideology has been slapped in the face over the course of 18 years as the Muslim neighbours have been unsuccessful in spreading their beliefs onto the Hussain family.
My family’s refusal to be intimidated like and our staunch stand for Christianity has shaken the very foundation of what such Literalist Muslims stand for. That is no exaggeration, I have felt it for too long now in my veins: the clenched teeth at the sight of us, the curls of fists, the hostile glares and bitter mutters, the spits and snarls, the threats to burn down our house and shoot us into the next life; has revealed to me just how territorial they are. The fact they are unwilling to let go of just the one family in non-compliance to Islam, the unforgiving and brutal attitude against my family shows just how desperately they need complete submission to their ideology. The sole ex-Muslim family living and breathing in the community they see as their own, threatens and yet evokes that territorial spirit.