March 11, 2005 3:27 AM
10 March 2005
BRITISH CONVERTS FROM ISLAM: CHRISTIAN LEADERS MUST SPEAK OUT
Some 3,000 Christians in the UK are in danger because they have chosen to convert from Islam. Some are being actively harassed and persecuted, but many church leaders seem more interested in defending their attackers than in standing up for the rights of the converts.
Nissar Hussain, a Christian from Bradford, has suffered three years of harassment, amounting effectively to persecution, from the local Muslims in his neighbourhood. His car has been torched and rammed, bricks have been thrown through his window on many occasions, there have been threats to burn the house down, and much else besides. Mr Hussain and his wife were originally Muslims, and this is the reason for the treatment they are getting.
Though this may seem shocking, it should not be a surprise. From its inception, Islam has rigorously sought to prevent its adherents from choosing any other faith. Such apostates are regarded as traitors and – according to shari’a (Islamic law) – should be executed.
There are many thousands of former Muslims, in scores of countries around the world, who are suffering for their decision to follow Christ. In countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan the law of the land specifies the death sentence for apostates from Islam, though this is only rarely practised. What is more common is for those who have left Islam to be persecuted in a multitude of other ways, including imprisonment and torture. In countries where there is no law against conversion, other laws may be used as a pretext, or “accidents” may be arranged. In addition, zealous individual Muslims may take it on themselves to kill a convert. Those converts who do not lose their lives may lose their spouse (through divorce), children, inheritance, home and job.
As the case of Mr and Mrs Hussain shows, living in Britain does not ensure full protection from persecution. Where a convert is the only non-Muslim in their family, difficulties can be even more severe. Converts from Islam in this country, especially young women, have been rejected by their family and sometimes brutally assaulted; some have been threatened with death .
NUMBERS AT RISK IN THE UK
The number of individuals at risk in the UK is substantial. It is conservatively estimated that there are 1,500 to 2,000 Iranians, approaching 1,000 Arabs, and some 150 Pakistanis and others living in this country who have left Islam to become Christians. In round figures there are 3,000 KNOWN converts, but there may also be many more who are isolated from the various networks, and thus omitted from the figures.
These converts face not only the possibility of hostility and aggression from individuals within the Muslim community in Britain, but also some are asylum-seekers who have fled much graver dangers in their countries of origin. If such individuals are refused asylum and sent home, they could face imprisonment, torture or death.
A number of senior British Muslims have recently acknowledged the injustice of the Islamic apostasy law and the serious breach of human rights and religious liberty which it entails, both in theory and in practice in the modern world.
CHRISTIAN LEADERS MUST SPEAK OUT
It is essential that Christian leaders in the UK should affirm the rights of those who have converted to Christianity from Islam. Sadly such converts can often be marginalised by those to whom they turn for help. Having been rejected by their own community, they find that the Christian community fails to take their situation seriously. Three years ago, when Mr Hussain was first attacked, most church leaders who heard of his situation did nothing. As further attacks occurred, they still seemed barely interested. Now that the plight of the Hussain family has hit the national press, church leaders seem to be chiefly concerned to absolve from blame the perpetrators of these crimes. Even some in Bradford itself have sought to deny the link with Islam and have attributed this sustained and vicious campaign to the pranks of youngsters.
For Christian leadership to downplay the sufferings of converts is a betrayal of those who have risked everything for Christ. But if British Christian leaders were to stand up for converts, it could even bring about change within Islam itself.
* Please pray for the protection of all Christians in the UK who have come from a Muslim background. Pray that they may also have peace in their hearts and not give way to fear. Pray that their faithfulness to Christ, despite great loss, pain and harassment, may speak powerfully to others.
* Pray that British Church leaders may act with integrity and courage to care for converts from Islam and to defend their rights and freedoms.
* Pray that Muslim leaders will act to change the traditional apostasy law within Islam and to allow Muslims freedom to choose their own faith without fear of punishment.
 – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1470584,00.html
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