Apostate Stalking with Hammers, Knives, and Axes: This Happened Not in Afghanistan—but in Northern England—in the Middle of a British City!

The Times of London reports today on a grotesque and horrific stalking of a young woman in Northern England who changed her religion from Muslim to Christian—and found her imam father stalking her, accompanied by a mob wielding hammers, knives and axes:

We are all too familiar with the persecution of Christians in countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Yet sitting in front of me is a British woman whose life has been threatened in this country solely because she is a Christian. Indeed, so real is the threat that the book she has written about her experiences has had to appear under an assumed name.

The book is called The Imam’s Daughter because “Hannah Shah” is just that: the daughter of an imam in one of the tight-knit Deobandi Muslim Pakistani communities in the north of England. Her father emigrated to this country from rural Pakistan some time in the 1960s and is, apparently, a highly respected local figure.

He is also an incestuous child abuser, repeatedly raping his daughter from the age of five until she was 15, ostensibly as part of her punishment for being “disobedient”. At the age of 16 she fled her family to avoid the forced marriage they had planned for her in Pakistan. A much, much greater affront to “honour” in her family’s eyes, however, was the fact that she then became a Christian – an apostate. The Koran is explicit that apostasy is punishable by death; thus it was that her father the imam led a 40-strong gang – in the middle of a British city – to find and kill her.

The Times goes on to describe the moment when she was discovered at a safe house:

Hannah’s description in the book of the moment when her “community” discovered the “safe” home where she had fled after becoming an apostate is terrifying. A mob with her father at its head pounded and hammered at the door as she cowered upstairs hoping she could not be seen or heard. She heard her father shout through the letter box: “Filthy traitor! Betrayer of your faith! Cursed traitor! We’re going to rip your throat out! We’ll burn you alive!”

Does she still believe they would have killed her? “Yes, without a doubt. They had hammers and knives and axes.”

Why didn’t you call the police after-wards? “First, I didn’t think the police would believe me. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen in this country – or that’s what they’d think. Second, I didn’t believe I would get help or protection from the authorities.”

Hannah had good reason for this doubt. When, at school, she had finally summoned the courage to tell a teacher that her father had been beating her (she couldn’t bring herself to reveal the sexual abuse), the social services sent out a social worker from her own community. He chose not to believe Hannah and, in effect, shopped her to her father, who gave her the most brutal beating of her life.

Apparently, this is not even an isolated incident:

Hannah Shah says her story is not unique – that there are many other girls in British Muslim families who are oppressed and married off against their will, or who have secretly become Christians but are too afraid to speak out. She wants their voices to be heard and for Britain, the land of her birth, to realise the hidden misery of these women.

How can such grotesque violations of basic human dignity—of the rights of individuals to choose their religion and to marry whomever they wish—be happening in the very heart of Europe? And what has happened to the Enlightenment? What would Voltaire and Locke say? This is religious behavior more in accord with the 16th century in Europe, not its 21st century.

Appalled by this story, I went to Amazon.com to see if Hannah Shah’s book, The Imam’s Daughter, is on sale there. It is not.

I did find the book at Amazon.com.uk here.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Apostate Stalking with Hammers, Knives, and Axes: This Happened Not in Afghanistan—but in Northern England—in the Middle of a British City!

  1. aunty dawkins says:

    I hate to say this but this episode is ironically due to the politically correct liberal intelligentsia who populate the corridors of power in UK. It is in the name of liberalism and diversity that these PC policies are framed but many minorities think they are above the law and can behave as they like since the authorities are afraid to risk allegations of discrimination or racism. There is a political backlash coming due to public perception of this phenomenum and will be a major reason for a change of Government at the next election.

  2. santitafarella says:

    Aunty Dawkins:

    Alas, I do not doubt that you are right about this. It is maddening to see in England how “cultural diversity” trumps the English legal system, and the protection of women’s rights in Britian. In speaking with one of my wife’s cousins this summer, I was appalled that he had supported the closing of a play deemed offensive in Birmingham. The play was written by a WOMAN and (in the play) she attacked the clergy that had oppressed her in her youth. Her free speech rights were trumped by the cultural groups “hurt feelings.” Perhaps you know the incident I am referring to.


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