By ALISON BELLAMY

“This is the final nail in the coffin,” says Nissar Hussain, with tears choking his emotional speech.

“We have decided to leave Bradford, as we cannot take any more. We have been demonised, abused, harassed and now been I’ve been beaten and left for dead, for what seems to be due to our faith.

“We are not against Islam, we just want to be able to live in peace. We have been plagued for more than 15 years since becoming Christians.”

Attacked Christian conver, Mr Nisar Hussain
Attacked Christian convert, Mr Nisar Hussain

The latest attack on Pakistani Christian convert Mr Hussain, a father of six, made national headlines after he was lynched outside his home in Manningham, in Bradford, on Tuesday November 17.

The 49-year-old was beaten with a pickaxe handle and punched and kicked as he lay on the ground. He was rushed to hospital by ambulance and underwent operations for a broken hand, broken kneecap and he also suffered concussion.

The vicious assault was caught on CCTV footage, and showed how he was hit 13 times in 13 seconds, before the two hooded thugs made away in a waiting car. Police are still investigating the latest attack.

Today the Asian Sunday is appealing for support from the local community, after the Hussains told us that they feel forced to flee the city they once loved.

Now a protest is being planned in Bradford by friends to show support for the family. And a petition calling for the Government to let the Hussains live without fear, is being gathered.

CCTV footage of Mr Hussain being attacked outside his house
CCTV footage of Mr Hussain being attacked outside his house

The Hussain family claim their lives have been blighted in two different Bradford communities for almost two decades, since converting to Christianity from Islam.

They say they have been physically attacked, endured ongoing vandalism to their car and have been verbally abused on a daily basis.

“There can sometimes be up to 50 people gathered outside our house on the street. It is intimidating. Quite simply, our lives have been sabotaged. The community itself sees we are a ‘convert’ family, but some other Muslims are not happy with this.”

 

Over the last decade their story has repeatedly hit the international headlines and featured in the Daily Mail, and Channel 4’s Dispatches, whose ‘Unholy War’ investigation highlighted the extent of their suffering.

They are one of around 30 other Pakistani Christian families living in Bradford.

The Asian Sunday held a summit meeting with the Hussain family and heard how they feel they are ‘prisoners in their own home’.

Mr Hussain, his wife Kubra, 45, and their six children aged from 23 to seven years, say they are distressed with the ongoing situation.

These include:

*Physical attacks

*Car damage and vandalism

*Abuse name calling and threatening behaviour

*Fireworks fired at their home

Police have now installed a panic button at the family’s terraced home.

Mr Hussain, a former nurse who has been forced to give up work, said: “We have been left with no choice but to leave.

“We are scared to leave the house for fear of what might happen next.”

He claims his car has had £6,000 of repairs over the last two years when his windscreens have been smashed.

He says problems have also spilled over to the schools where his children attend.

“I cannot park outside the house, it has become a no go parking area for me, so I park elsewhere.”

It was when he was moving his car to park it overnight at the local police station, that he was brutally attacked.

Now recovering at home, after the assault on November 17, for which police are still appealing for information.

Mr Hussain said the family welcomes news of a surge of support from people who are sympathetic towards his freedom of choice.

A protest is being planned in Bradford by supporters, to raise the profile of religious hate crime.

The protest has been organised by a friend of Mr Hussain, Mohammed Fiaz, who says he had to flee Bradford after converting to Christianity.

Mr Fiaz said: “The protest is about our human right to leave Islam and to practice the faith of our choice. The emphasis is that we can’t allow intimidation, harassment and attacks upon the apostate.

“There are those who are afraid to stand up about this. I am encouraging them to come out of the closet.”

He said he expected hundreds of people from across the country to attend the protest, which he said would be peaceful with placards supporting human rights and freedom of choice.

Mr Hussain says he has forgiven his attackers

Their case is being supported by the British Pakistani Christian Association, which has launched an online petition to support the Hussains, to defend the rights of people in the United Kingdom to change their religion or belief, without fear of persecution from any opposing individual or community. To date more than 200 people have signed it.

News of the attack has shocked community and faith leaders. Ishtiaq Ahmed, spokesman for Bradford Council for Mosques, said: “Any intimidation, harassment on the grounds of people’s faith or for that matter any harassment or intimidation on anyone’s way of life is not acceptable.

“People should be free to choose their faith and practice it to the fullest without fear.”

The Hussain family moved to Manningham in 2006 after similar problems began in Laisterdyke. They first converted to Christianity in 1996.

There are around 30 Asian families living in Bradford, who have converted to Christianity.

Bishop of Bradford Rev Toby
Bishop of Bradford Rev Toby

The Rt Rev Dr Toby Howarth, Area Bishop for Bradford said: “I was troubled to hear the reports of this latest incident, and my prayers are with Mr Hussain and his family.

“I am glad that the police are taking the matter so seriously. While it would be wrong for me to comment specifically while police investigations are still underway, we need to be clear that hate crime, as the police are treating this case, from whatever motive, has no place in our city.”

West Yorkshire Police are continuing with the investigation into the recent attack at St Paul’s Road and are still appealing for any information.

Chief Inspector Alan Rhees-Cooper, of Bradford District Police, told the Asian Sunday: “It is being treated as a hate crime and we have put safeguarding measures in place. We are looking at the recent attack and also a number of previous allegations and working with a range of partners, including councillors, to address the issues.”

Officers are still appealing for information about the two suspects, who fled in a red or maroon car, believed to be an old Honda Civic or a Rover 400. It was seen in the area just before the incident at around 5pm on November 17.

One of the suspects is described as an Asian male, about 6ft tall and of stocky build. Both men were wearing hooded tops and tracksuit bottoms.

Anyone with information about the vehicle or the suspects involved in this incident is asked to contact DC 6316 Pearman at Bradford District CID on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.