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Humanist denied protection in UK due to lack of knowledge about Aristotle and Plato


Image of Wilson Chowdhry and an officer responsible for the training regime for Home Office asylum and humanitarian protection officers - outside Home Office building in 2017 (click here).

A Pakistani humanist has been denied humanitarian protection in the UK based on his inability to adequately answer questions relating to Plato and Aristotle, two of ancient Greece's most influential philosophers from the 5th century BC, who could to some extent be credited with having initiated the humanist movement.

The strange rejection of the application of Hamza Bin Walayat is at odds with the majority of humanist thinkers of the 21st century who would argue that the influence of Aristotle and Plato, stoked the concept of humanism but would refer, more often then not, to Francesco Petrarca aka Petrarch (1304 - 1374) an Italian scholar from the middle-ages as the founder of modern Humanism. The Renaissance human-centric movement and more modern humanistic philosophies and principles that emerged  in the 19th century came centuries later.

Hamza had sought asylum in Britain after he denounced Islam and joined a group called 'Humanists U.K' according to the Guardian Newspaper. 

Walayat, entered the UK in 2011 and has resided here since.  He claims that he has received death threats from members of his family and his community in Pakistan after adopting a more secular British life.  He has developed a relationship with a non-Muslim partner and no longer adheres to the religious practices and expectations of Islam.

The  Home Office state, however, that Hamza bin Walayat’s inability to name any famous Greek philosophers who were humanistic identified that he only held a “rudimentary at best understanding of Humanism below 'what would be held by a genuine follower'.” The Home office also rejected his fears of religious persecution in Pakistan saying that such fear was 'unfounded.'

The Home Office position seems not to recognize  the threat placed on those who quit Islam, irrespective of the direction those who quit the faith take. In 2016, BPCA wrote a report on Apostasy Hatred in the UK (click here) .  The report clearly highlighted cases of hate crimes enacted upon converts from Islam to Christianity, Humanism and atheism, using real life case studies.

On February 15th 2017, Faisal Bashir a former Muslim who quit because of alleged hate speech from a local Ilford mosque, spoke of persecution in the 'cosmopolitan' well policed London Borough of Redbridge.  When the leader of the Federation of Redbridge Muslim Organisation was quizzed on the allegations rather than accept Faisal's experience along with his sincere change of viewpoint, he conjectured:

“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 distressed 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."

With this firm denial of hate speech asserted, it was made evident only months later when the trio involved in the London Bridge Bomb attack were linked to Ummah Gym in Ilford and several reports of a jihadist trainer who attended a local mosque were brought to light in papers such as the Times (click here) .  One of the reports was from chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, Wilson Chowdhry.

Mr Chowdhry, said:  

"It makes no sense that if people in the UK are being persecuted for quitting Islam and joining movements such as Humanism or holding no faith, that they could return to Pakistan a country steeped in Islamic radicalism and enjoy a good quality of life.

"It is absurd to assume that there is no mosque in Redbridge, in London, or any other region of the UK that is preaching hatred of this type, how much more so then can we expect apostasy hatred and other extremism to be taught from the massive number of mosques in Pakistan."     

In April 2017, BPCA reported on the murder of a student who referred to himself as 'The Humanist' on his facebook page.  The outrage caused by Mishal Khan's quitting of Islam resulted in him being beaten by academic students and professors for an assumed blasphemy.  A video of the attack can be viewed on our website (click here).

A whole raft of other attacks on humanist and atheist have been referred to in the BPCA report on persecution in Pakistan, published in 2016 (click here)

Wilson Chowdhry, added:

"There is a large existing number of reports of attacks on people who deny Islam for other faiths, belief systems or no faith. Pakistan has several known blasphemy convictions based on a  de facto position against those who reject Islam - clear examples of apostasy hatred."

"The UK still maintains that there is no persecution of minorities in Pakistan despite the Trump administration adopting a more severe stance for the US against the increasing persecution of minorities in Pakistan (click here).  

The Home office has also previously rejected several Pakistani Christian applications for asylum on spurious grounds.  Often basing a persons Christian faith on knowledge of Bible trivia rather than a more spiritual and intellectual understanding of Christianity.  A BBC report in June 2016 referred to asylum applicants failing to name the ten commandments or knowing about the day of Pentecost (click here) Bible trivia which many Christians would arguably find difficult to recount in an assessment tool that forgoes the life-changing gospel message of the Bible and the simple acceptance of Christ's deity, sovereignty and His work on the cross that brings salvation.

The BPCA held several meetings with Home Office officials which resulted in a change to the previously held position and a change to the assessment guidance used by the Home office, when deciding Christian and Christian convert asylum cases (click here)Despite the new guidance asylum cases for Christian are still being rejected on ridiculous grounds. BPCA have evidence of a Pastor's daughter who failed her asylum application based on the fact that the Home Office absurdly believed she was not a genuine Christian. This failure despite the previous efforts of the BPCA has been labelled as an 'imbecilic failure to maintain an agreed protocol' by our Chairman Wilson Chowdhry.  

Mr Chowdhry, further added:

"The Home Office should consider the formation of a panel of experts who can help them decide on cases on religious grounds - I have attended several Home Office meetings during which I have suggested such a process. The panel could review decisions on  applications either prior to conclusions being sent out or post rejections as part of an appeal process - they should also be involved in a general review of applications,  moderating over a sample of decision each quarter perhaps to ensure ongoing best practice. 

"Whatever the Home Office decides to do, above all they must retrain staff and ensure that any learning has been absorbed prior to involving such staff in assessments that could risk the safety of genuine asylum seekers.

"The current position that Pakistan is not a country that persecutes it's minorities held by UK Home Office is outrageous when you consider the numerous UK Foreign Office , United States Commission or International Religious Freedom and a raft of NGO reports all which illustrate a high intensity of persecution of minorities in Pakistan.  I pray that one day the real politick that prevents a truer assessment of Pakistan's treatment of minorities is dropped for the sake of justice and the security of millions of innocent people suffering in Pakistan.

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