Redbridge was once a solid white working class borough with a large Jewish community – largely East End overflow. The Jewish community is scattered and diminished as is the wwc one; now the borough, while not as Islamic as Tower Hamlets and Newham has several very large Muslim areas. From the West Essex Guardian series.
A MAN who claims he was forced to move house after renouncing his faith wants authorities to crack down on hate crime. Fasial Bashir, of Mayville Road, Ilford decided to stop practicing Islam in the summer of 2014 over claims the religion was too “hateful” and “sending out the wrong message”.
But when the 43-year-old stopped going to mosques in Ilford he claims he started getting harassment on a weekly basis. The father-of-two said: “I heard religious people say things I couldn’t put up with any longer – it was all too hateful. These people knew I had become an atheist and soon enough my whole family was being harassed. At least once a week they would hang around near my house, shouting and swearing at me.
“I was called an apostate, a non-believer, I was told I had betrayed my God and my faith.”
“Sometimes they would even say things to my children – they are far too little to know what was happening, they were very frightened.”
Mr Bashir claims he would often call the police, but was told it was “just a nuisance” and was not a police matter until it was reported at least twice a month.
He said: “They always said they couldn’t really do anything because no physical altercation ever took place. But I’m not the kind of person to get violent with anybody. Also, it was always different people so they claimed they couldn’t log it as similar complaint. Eventually a police officer told me I should just move house to get away from it all.”
The mobile mechanic moved from Connaught Mews to M—- Road with his wife, 11-year-old daughter, and eight-year-old son in June 2015. I’m not reporting where he lives now, even if the newspaper is daft enough to do so.
“. . . I used to be able to walk my children to school, now I have to drive them every day. The new house is over a mile away, but they still managed to find us again.”
Mr Bashir claims the harassment has died down in recent months, but the risk of “something terrible happening” to non-Muslims in the community is still high.He wants Redbridge Council and the Metropolitan Police to work together to better tackle alleged incidents of hate crime, with more time, money and energy dedicated to the cause.
He said: “My personal problem appears to have been solved for now, but it doesn’t mean it’s not still out there in society. “Where there’s smoke there’s always fire…”
Chairman of the Ilford-based British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) Wilson Chowdhry (a very good man, heading a very good organisation – see what they do on behalf of Asia Bibi) is supporting Mr Bashir’s calls for action.
He said: “Sadly Faisal’s description of persecution is similar to that faced by many Muslims choosing to leave the faith who end up shunned by their community. Police and councils up and down the country just don’t understand the level of animosity people choosing to leave Islam can face.”
Cue the local Taqiyya merchant: But chairman of the Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisations (FORMO) Farouk Ismail said: “There is no compulsion in Islam. It’s up to the individual if they want to be a Muslim or not and each individual’s faith is a matter between them and God, no one else.
“I don’t think this is about religion, I think it’s the individuals involved being a bit silly. Maybe this man has had a family disagreement with these people or he’s anxious or destressed about something, so he’s decided to attribute it to him being an atheist.
“I think there’s also a lack of understanding about what Islam is because I go in and out of mosques in Ilford all the time and there is no hate preaching whatsoever.
“It just doesn’t exist.”
Read the comments – no one bar a well known local left winger is fooled. And I don’t think he is actually fooled, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that…The commentor who uses the name St George is a Muslim who defends his faith vigorously in the comments column every week – he is always challenged by people who know their history and know the sources.