By Elizabeth Doherty
A MAN groomed to be a become a Jihadi fighter since he was a child is in hiding in Ireland after he almost paid with his life bravely fighting the system that tried to make him a murderer.
The Pakistani 25-year-old academic, who wishes only to be known as Martin, was told he would be killed after he was found guilty of blasphemy in Pakistan – for speaking up against the Muslim clerics who tried to “brainwash” him.
Since he was a child, Jihadi fighters had visited Martin’s school to indoctrinate children. He watched as other boys vanished after they joined up and he is haunted by a memory of being given lollipops by Jihadi fighters, as they attempted to recruit him as a child.
But Martin was secretly appalled as a party was thrown in school in celebration of 9/11 when he was just a young boy.
Martin fled his homeland for the UK after attempts were made by the clerics to “brainwash” him to become an Islamic fighter but he met similar threats there – as he continued to speak out against extremism and terror.
Now Martin is hiding in Dublin – the last retreat, he believes – but he has been threatened with death even here from a Jihadi demanding his Irish address.
Martin said the man who threatened him had displayed Jihadi symbols online.
Gardai are investigating the threat and Martin continues to write online to speak out against Islamic extremism.
He is afraid of the risk of writing online though, after a case in Glasgow which saw an Islamic fundamentalist being jailed for 27 years in August for murder after he targeted a victim hundreds of kilometres away for his Facebook posts.
This killer is a hero in my homeland and I do believe the threat I’ve received is a legitimate one and I am afraid. I thought I could speak openly in Ireland – this is a democratic country – but my life has been threatened for my beliefs.
The victim Martin referred to was Asad Shah, 40, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community and a shopkeeper, who wrote about his religious beliefs on the social network.
Killer Tanveer Ahmed, 32, a Sunni Muslim and taxi driver, from Bradford, Yorkshire, drove to Glasgow, where he stabbed Mr Shah up to 30 times. Tanveer felt the victim had “disrespected” Islam.
In August Tanveer was jailed to 27 years for murder at the High Court in Glasgow.
“I spoke up about Islamic extremism in my home country and my life was threatened. I went to school in a place where the September 11 terror attack was celebrated – and after that things got worse,” he said.
“We were taught as boys and then as young men to become jihadis and to fight Christians and other minorities.
“I escaped to the UK but I was threatened there and then to Ireland to get away from that because I spoke out and then my life has been threatened again, so I hide.”
Martin said ever since he was a boy he has opposed Islamic extremism after seeing 9/11 unfold and he felt Sharia law had created “hopelessness” in his home country.
“I believe in free speech and I have the right to say my own words – that’s why I left Pakistan.”
He warned Ireland and the UK to take every length to monitor Islamic clerics coming in to both countries – and all people attempting to migrate here.
“It is very important after Brexit that Ireland shares information with the UK on anyone who comes here.
“Islamic extremist clerics tried to brainwash me as a boy, as a young man and these people are intent to bring their message to Ireland and the UK. They need to be stopped.
“We were told that jihad is a very good thing because the prophet was ready for jihad. I said if I kill a Jew or
Christian in the name of Islam, how is that a brave thing?”
Martin blogs his opinions to help increase free speech among others who question Islamic extremism. He is hopeful that by opening up debate he can help make others feel confident to do the same.