A foreword on Matti Inayat’s story by his son, Anosh Matti.
“This is a narrative of my Dad’s journey from Pakistan to the United States. He wrote about the religious intolerance he experienced as a Catholic that led him to take the step of seeking religious asylum. Whether or not you know some of the story, or none, please take the time to read from start to end. I promise you will feel more fortunate about your life.”
Matti Inayat’s Story Through His Own Words:
From the end of June 1997 until May 1999, I worked as an Office Manager for Pattan NGO (Non Governmental Organization) in Islamabad. During this period, I received threatening phone calls from a religious militant group, but no one had attacked me yet. After my marriage to my wonderful wife, Shaista Josephine, we had two sons.
In June 1999, I worked at Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Some college students who worked part-time asked if I could teach them English. I accepted and started giving lessons in the evening hours at my home.
Somehow the fundamentalists group, who had been after me since 1990, came to know that I was teaching English to Muslim students. I started receiving threatening phone calls and quickly contacted the local police station, according to them they were unable to help. In November 1999, I received very threatening calls saying that our days had been numbered. With the help of a friend in the U.S, I got a Visa and flew out of the country.
On May 20, 2000, I arrived in Seattle, Washington in a Dominican House. After a few days I got a job at a gas station, and with the assistance of my employer went to see immigration authorities. I explained my situation and was told to have any attorney to file for religious asylum for myself and my family. From there I moved to New York to look for better jobs, and then I ended up moving to York, PA with the help of a friend for a job.
In July 2000, with the help of my attorney, I filed for Asylum in the United States. In August 2000, I had an interview with an immigration judge and my case was approved. In December 2001, my wife and children had been granted visas and arrived in the USA. I worked for various jobs and since January 2018 I have been employed at Lancaster General Hospital as a Case Manager.
An incident that occurred which I feel is important to tell is when I worked for Bell Socialization Services. Once I was walking across the street and two individuals looked at me and shouted, “Hey, Bin Laden”. That afternoon I shaved my beard and never grew one again. With all due respect, it was upsetting that the reason I fled Pakistan was because of religious intolerance and then in the United States I was only looked at for my nationality. I questioned, “where then should I live where no one would judge me by my religion or my ethnicity?”
The reason why I share this story is for others to focus on oneself. No matter who you are or your background, always judge by character, and even then, be understanding because no one knows anyone’s whole story.
After reading Matti Inayat’s story, I was humbled that he would share such a personal experience. Fleeing a country for religious persecution or changing one’s appearance due to racially-based harassment is not something that most of us have encountered in our lives. I urge everyone who reads this to heed Matti Inayat’s advice because it is crucial to the goal of this project. Together we must foster an environment of inclusiveness and understanding, and this starts by first looking inward. -Clara