Nissar Hussain, a British man of Pakistani descent who converted from Islam to Christianity, was brutally beaten outside his home in Bradford on Tuesday (17 November) and left with multiple fractures and severe bruising.
The two attackers, their faces concealed, were waiting in a car outside Mr Hussain’s home, and jumped out just as he left his house to move his car. They knocked him over with the shaft of a pickaxe and savagely beat him while he was on the ground.
Terrified that they would kill him, Mr Hussain covered his head with his arms to protect himself. “Thank God that He was watching my back,” he wrote to Barnabas Fund as he praised God that he was not hit on the head.
The attack, however, was brutal and left Mr Hussain with a fractured kneecap on his left leg and fractured bones in his left hand. On Wednesday, he underwent surgery to insert pins into the fractured bones.
This vicious act of brutality comes after many years of harassment, intimidation, insults, physical abuse, and attacks on his car, his property and his family members at the hands of the Muslim community who have sought to destroy him and his family. Earlier this year, he faced false accusations which found him locked in a police cell for 16 hours. His wife, too, was detained on false allegations.
In all of this, he has been betrayed time and again by those who are there to protect. Police, church leaders and political authorities have rigidly refused to concede that it is his status as a convert from Islam that has made him a target in the eyes of the Muslim community. Apparently none of them wanted to compromise their relationship with Muslims.
For over 20 years, Mr Hussain has complained to police about the persistent persecution that he, his wife, and their six children have endured ever since coming to faith in the Lord in 1996. Yet the barrage of attacks has continued unabated. They have made their plight known to church leaders and political authorities, but to little effect.
Then, two weeks ago, a group of young people huddled across the street from the house where the family live, hurled a lit firework rocket at the window of his child’s bedroom and pelted the house with eggs. The incident was caught on CCTV and was featured on the ITV local TV channel. At last, people began to take notice. I had already advised him to move house to a safe part of the country, because his life and his family’s lives could be at risk.
But how long must this persecution be allowed to continue against Mr Hussain? Must he be killed before people understand the very grave reality of the threat to his family? And what of other converts – those who face unremitting harassment, false accusations, intimidation and discrimination simply because they have chosen to stand firm in the Lord?
Recently Nissar shared with me his heart. He said that, whilst he remained fully committed to Christ, he feels rejected by British Christians, by British police and by British institutions. He and his wife feel they can no longer go to church because they feel that British Christianity no longer understands them or wants them. As converts they feel they have stood alone against all the odds. But they are not the only ones. There are others like them in the UK. Barnabas Fund exists to stand for justice, for righteousness and for truth, alongside our brothers and sisters, whether it be a case of the false accusations and injustices of Pakistan or the same in Great Britain. As both an Asian and a convert, Nissar has had a double experience of discrimination, alienation and prejudice coupled with deep hostility. He has been rejected by the Church and by the Muslim community.
I am thankful to say that, since reporting this case, there are Christians across the UK who have responded positively, expressing a deep concern and care for the wellbeing of Nissar and his family. But others have raised questions. Underlying it all, from the perspective of Nissar and his family, is the point that nobody believed them and that the threats to their lives were neither accepted nor understood. For this, church leaders and the police must both take responsibility.
We have started a fund for Nissar Hussain. If anyone would like to contribute to it, please make a donation to the Nissar Hussain Fund (Project 64-1257).