Father-of-two Faisal Bashir has called on police to do more to tackle hatred coming from Muslim communities after harassment drove him from his home when he left Islam.
Mr. Bashir said he decided to stop practising Islam in the summer of 2014 after becoming uncomfortable with hearing “hateful” sentiments from other Muslims.
“I heard religious people say things I couldn’t put up with any longer – it was all too hateful,” he told the East London and West Essex Guardian.
But when the resident of Ilford, Redbridge, stopped attending mosques in the area he said local Muslims began to terrorise his family.
“These people knew I had become an atheist and soon enough my whole family was being harassed,” he said. He recalled groups of men loitering outside his house “shouting and swearing”.
“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.”
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Mr. Bashir was told by police that the hate campaign was a “nuisance” rather than a police matter until the harassment was reported at least twice a month.
But even then, police said they were unable to act because the perpetrators often changed and no physical altercations took place.
Eventually, after a police officer told him he “should just move house to get away from it all”, Mr. Bashir moved to another part of Ilford in June 2015. He told the local newspaper his family “wasn’t left with any other choice”.
The mobile mechanic reported the hate campaign against him seems to have died down, but urged Redbridge Council and the Metropolitan Police to work together and do more to tackle religious hatred towards non-Muslims.
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.
“We need local authorities to investigate this kind of thing more thoroughly before something terrible happens.”
Mr. Bashir’s plea was backed by the Ilford-based British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).
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