Report highlights threats and abuse against ex-Muslims

by
30 April 2008

by Ed Beavan

Blood symbol: demonstrators place carnations at the scene of the murder of three Christians at a printing house in Malatya, Turkey, in April last year AP

Blood symbol: demonstrators place carnations at the scene of the murder of three Christians at a printing house in Malatya, Turkey, in April last year...

MUSLIMS who convert from Islam to Christianity are facing “gross and wide-ranging” human-rights abuses across the globe, and even in the UK, says a report released this week by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), No Place To Call Home. It draws on the experiences of 28 apostates from Islam in countries such as Nigeria, Iran, and the UK. The consequences can be detention and torture, and, in extreme cases, death, it says.

In April 2007, two Christian converts and a German missionary were murdered in Turkey: earlier this month, a British teacher was shot dead by Muslim insurgents in his native Somalia. He was believed to have been targeted because of his conversion to Christianity (News, 18 April).

Speaking at the launch of the report in Westminster this week, its author, Ziya Meral, CSW’s advocacy officer for the Middle East, described the persecution of apostates as “a serious and overlooked concern”.

He called on the UN to ensure that Muslim nations met their international obligations under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has the right to change religion.

Nissar Hussain, who was born in England, but whose parents came from Pakistan, told of the experiences he had endured in Bradford since he and his wife converted to Christianity in 1996. Mr Hussain said that verbal abuse had escalated to physical attacks. His car had been torched, bricks had been thrown, and he had received death threats. The situation had worsened, he said, after the British invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and he criticised the police, who on one occasion, he said, had told him to stop being a “crusader” and move house.

Mr Hussain was also critical of the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd David James, for not doing more to help him. “The mental anguish and torture just consumes you, as your home is not a refuge, and nothing can prepare you for this quality of existence yet there is denial within the Church about the issue.”

The report urges the UN to address the problem of persecuted apostates as an immediate priority, and to engage with Muslim countries to make sure that they comply with international law.

New Foundation launched. A Muslim “counter-extremism” think tank, the Quilliam Foundation, has been launched in the UK. It has been founded by two former Islamists, Maajid Nawaz and Ed Husain, the author of the memoir The Islamist.

It will establish centres in the UK staffed by Muslim scholars, and will counter extremist Islamic ideology through liberal Muslim teaching. The Foundation’s advisers include the Revd Dr Giles Fraser.

It takes its name from William Quilliam, an Englishman who converted to Islam in the 19th Century and helped establish Britain’s first mosque.

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