British Pakistani religious minorities have been violently persecuted by Sunni Muslims in the UK. Some say that authorities are looking the other way.
In October, British Pakistani Christian Tajamal Amar, 45, was beaten up by a group of Muslim men outside a restaurant in Derby, UK.
This is not the first time that Pakistani religious minorities have been attacked in the UK.
In 2016, Pakistani Christian Nissar Hussain and his family were forced to leave their home in Bradford after Muslims beat Hussain up outside his house, leaving him with two broken bones.
Attacks such as these have even led to death. In 2016, Ahmadi shopkeeper Asad Shah was stabbed to death by a Sunni outside of his shop.
Hatred of minorities by Pakistani Sunni Muslims has roots in Pakistani societal norms imported with immigration to the UK.
The Roots of Hatred
Pakistani laws, particularly blasphemy laws, are often manipulated to abuse religious minorities.
In 2010, Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi was sentenced to death for blasphemy after two Muslim women accused her of insulting the Prophet Mohammad. The women had gotten into an argument with Bibi because they did not want to drink from a bucket of water that she had touched, since she was a Christian.
Bibi said that the women were spreading lies about her because they disliked her. She said, ‘We had some differences, and this was their way of getting revenge.’
Pakistan’s national education curriculum ‘openly demonises and caricatures minorities,’ according to Wilson Chowdhry of British Pakistani Christian Association. Christians are often demonised by teachers and headmasters. There have been incidents of Christian children being beaten by school staff for using the same toilets as Muslims, in an attempt to make Christians an ‘untouchable’ caste.
In one instance, a Christian boy was beaten to death by his fellow classmates.
The attacks by Pakistani Sunni Muslims on Christians and Ahmadiyya Muslims in the UK indicates that the religious hatred generated throughout Pakistan’s educational curriculum remains embedded in some Pakistani Sunni communities in the UK.
Authorities Look The Other Way
Some British Pakistani Christians have had UK police and politicians ignore persecution at the hands of Muslims.
British Pakistani Christian Nissar Hussain lives in a safe-house with his family after being physically assaulted outside his home in Bradford by a group of three Muslim men in 2016. Hussain said that this was his family’s second time having to move homes due to religious persecution in the UK.
Hussain told Conatus News that he had tried to warn police officers of this attack a year earlier. He said:
‘This attack on me was imminent, I found out in a meeting with a local mosque in June 2015 that this clan family was instigating an attack on me. I reported this to the police in June 2015, And the police dismissed it. This particular officer who was assigned to me dismissed it. I had an independent witness to this.’
Hussain’s attackers attempted to strike his head with a pick-axe, and when Hussain used his hand to block his head, the blow of the pix-axe caused Hussain’s hand to “explode.” Hussain said his family was sure it was an attempted murder, but police classified it as an ‘assault.’
Hussain, a convert to Christianity from Islam, said that he and his family have suffered religious hate crimes for over 17 years. Past attacks, he said, included ‘car torchings, car rammings, and drive-by brickings as we used to call it. We couldn’t sit the children near a window because we didn’t know when the next brick was gonna come flying.’
Such attacks, Hussain said, police called ‘neighbourly disputes,’ failing to recognise the religious nature of the persecution. It was the attack in 2016 that police classified as a religious hate crime.
Hussain said that politicians had also ignored his family’s plight. He said that he attempted to meet with MP Naz Shah three times to discuss his family’s story, but she postponed the first two of Hussain’s attempts to meet with her and did not respond to the third. Hussain said that Shah’s office manager, Mohammad Shabbir, has ‘very close links’ with the family who initially instigated attacks on Hussain and his family.
Hussain said that in 2016 he also met with then Secretary of State Karen Bradley, so Theresa May, he said, ‘definitely knows’ about his story. Hussain said that she probably didn’t see it as a high priority, though.
The one thing that has helped Hussain and his family survive such brutality is donations from many of his fellow citizens to a GoFundMe page.
Hussain said, ‘I never envisioned, born and raised in this country, that it would ever come to this.’
Tara is a journalist and campaigner based in San Francisco, US