AN Asian author has detailed the ‘unspeakable cruelty’ he suffered as a child after being forced to leave his family and move to Pakistan.
Alexander Khan also writes about the difficult decisions he had to make to avoid the path to terrorism in his new book Orphan of Islam.
Brought up in East Lancashire, in a tight-knit Muslim community, in the 1970s, Alexander tells how, at the age of 12, he was sent to Pakistan, and made to attend an Islamic fundamentalist school, famed for training some of the Taliban’s top scholars and fighters.
He spoke no Arabic, and had little knowledge of the Qur’an and was regularly beaten for his ‘crimes’.
But, with the help of a brave fellow pupil, Alexander said he escaped, making his way across the Pakistani desert and reaching the village his relatives lived in.
Almost 40 years later, Alexander decided to write his story as a kind of therapy to help him get over the ordeal.
He said: “It started about four years ago when I told my wife exactly what had happened to me. We had been together for five years, so it took me a long time to open up about it. It took a huge weight off my shoulders because I had not told anybody.
“My wife told me to write everything down to make me feel better, and possibly help others who are suffering.”
Alexander said one of the main motives for writing the book was to help people who might have found themselves in the same situation.
He said: “From my understanding, my story is the first of its kind. There are many books out there of brave females telling their stories, but this is the first one from a boy’s side of things. I have already had interest on my website and people saying the book has really helped them.
“It has always been in my head, but writing it down I realised how much it had affected me.”
Orphan of Islam has already received glowing reviews, with author Steve McLaughlin, praising Alexander for his courage. Mr McLaughlin said: “The book will challenge how you think, and cause you to question your moral values.
“I am not as kind and forgiving a person as Alex is, and had some of these characters infected my childhood, I have no idea how I would have coped.But Alex is a better and stronger man than me, and I salute him for having the courage and wisdom to rise above it.”
Alexander served seven years in an elite parachute regiment within the British Army on his return to England and, after almost 26 years of searching, was finally reunited with his mother.
He now runs his own telecommunications business in Hampshire.