Muslim Family Driven From Bingham Home After Islamophobic Abuse And 'Ham Cross'

A Muslim family had a pork-wrapped wooden cross placed outside their home, their mother abused in the street and smoke blown into the face of a child by an elderly man, after moving into a middle-class Nottinghamshire village.

The BBC reports that Murad Alam, 39, had found his young son plotting an "escape route" on Google Earth from their home in Bingham, Nottinghamshire, after becoming afraid that racist vigilantes would attack their house.

Alam said he, his wife and their two sons aged eight and 10 had been forced to leave their home in the village, once voted one of the best places to raise a family in the UK, because of the constant abuse.

And he said that he has tried to dissuade his wife from wearing a headscarf, in order not to attract too much attention.

Speaking to the BBC's Asian Network, Alam described the first incident, hearing the door bell ring and finding no-one at the door, but a wooden cross propped up against the door frame.

"I thought, who's put this cross here. And I thought it was kids who had done it. And then I realised something slimy was touching my hand and saw the cross was wrapped in ham and pork.

"And I realised, that's time and effort gone into that, to buy the ham, the wood, make the cross. That's not kids that's a grown man who has done that."

Locals shouted "Paki" and "tramp" at Alam's wife and children in the street, and "the eldest had smoke blown in his face by an elderly local gentleman," Alam said.

He believes the objection many had is to his wife's hijab. "I imagine if she wore jeans and t-shirt it would be ok, I honestly believe that.

"I actually would prefer if she didn't wear it, but it's her choice. I would prefer not to attract the attention and I've seen how society's going.

"British society is going more and more anti-Muslim, going downhill, you hear about new stuff every day."

Police fitted secret cameras, security lighting and monitored Alam's property after offensive graffiti was sprayed on a path by the house.

Before the attacks, Alam and his wife had been separated, and his wife moved to the village for a job with the council.

But when the attacks worsened, Alam moved back into his wife's new home, feeling that he needed to protect his family.

"As a father I have responsibilities, never mind what's going on with me and my wife, I had to be there for my family."

Bingham, once named as one of the top ten places to raise a family, is "like the village from Hot Fuzz," according to Alam. "It's beautiful, a village lifestyle with some of the best schools in the county."

Predominantly white, the town has a popular farmers market and an affluent population, many of whom commute to Nottingham.

Nottinghamshire Police said a 13-year-old boy had been arrested in connection with the attacks but he was later released without charge.

Alam said he had nothing but gratitude for the police involved in his family's case.

Fiyaz Mughal, director of Tell Mama, a national service that records and analyses anti-Muslim attacks, told the BBC: "This is one of a number of cases that we have seen where the anti-Muslim prejudice has had a shocking impact on the wider family as a whole.

"We provided practical support to the family where we could. They are though, moving away and fear that the perpetrators and the air of anti-Muslim prejudice in the area was just too much which is very, very sad."

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