Tag Archives: Conversion

Police in Pakistan Locate Bodies of Christian Sisters, Killed for Refusing to Convert to Islam

Pakistani flag

Pakistani police discovered the bodies of two Christian women in Lahore on Jan. 4 who were reportedly killed by their Muslim supervisors for not converting to Islam.

Sisters Sajida Mushtaq and Abida Qaiser were found bound, stuffed inside a sack, then dumped near a drainage ditch, Morning Star News reports.

The women had been missing since Nov. 26.

Sajida’s husband, Mushtaq Masih told police that his wife had previously mentioned that she was being pestered by her Muslim supervisors at work.

“My wife often complained of harassment by her supervisors, but she used to tell me that she was handling the situation well,” Masih told Morning Star News. “After she went missing, one of my relatives shared with us that Sajida had confided in her that her supervisors, Muhammad Mumtaz and Naeem Butt, used to pressure her and Abida to convert to Islam and marry them.”

Masih filed a police report after his wife and sister-in-law failed to return home from work. Officer Iftikhar Hussain, who was investigating the case, said police questioned Mumtaz and Butt after they were told that Mumtaz used to torment the two women, telling them to marry him.

The two suspects subsequently confessed to killing the sisters.

“During interrogation, Naeem confessed that they had abducted the sisters, and after keeping them hostage for a few days for satisfying their lust, had slit their throats and thrown their bodies into the drain,” Hussain told Morning Star News.

Masih and other family member were asked to identity both bodies. “I still cannot fathom the sight of seeing my wife’s decomposed body,” Masih said.

“I have three sons and a daughter – the eldest 11 years old, and the youngest 5 – while Abida has only one daughter, aged 9,” he added. “You can imagine the emotional and mental trauma our children and all other family members have been suffering since Sajida and Abida had gone missing. When police informed us that they had identified the two bodies as those of our loved ones, it seemed that our entire world had come crumbling down.”

Punjab Province Minister for Minorities and Human Rights Ejaz Alam Augustine attended to the grieving family members.

“No words are enough to condemn the barbarity meted out to the two innocent women,” the minister said.

Augustine explained the number of forced conversions of Christian women and girls in Punjab was rising, but that authorities are enacting laws to punish those involved.

“We have sent a draft bill to the provincial law ministry for vetting. It will be introduced in the Punjab Assembly after evolving consensus of all political parties,” he said.

Pakistan is ranked fifth on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

PAKISTAN: ABDUCTION, CONVERSION AND CHILD MARRIAGE OF RELIGIOUS MINORITY GIRLS

A new report from Jubilee Campaign USA in collaboration with Voice for Justice provides an overview of several common factors involved in cases of forced conversion and abduction.

On October 13, 13-year-old Pakistani Christian girl Arzoo Raja was kidnapped outside of her home in Karachi. Two days later, Arzoo’s parents were told that their daughter had been the latest victim of forced conversion and forced marriage. Azhar Ali, a Muslim man of about 45 years old, who lives in the house opposite Arzoo, was responsible for the kidnapping. The police showed little willingness to help Arzoo’s family, and therefore the family had little hope of getting their daughter back.

According to the National Commission of Justice and Peace (NCJP) and the Pakistan Hindu Council, each year approximately 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan are kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam, and married off to their kidnappers or rapists.

The hope is that this report may serve as a tool to conduct advocacy and effectively address the situation and worrying trends of forced conversion and abductions of girls and women in Pakistan.

Second class citizens

Forcing Christian and Hindu girls to marry their captors and to convert to Islam is a reprehensible practice which happens often in Pakistan.

Religious minorities are considered to be second class citizens by a large part of the Pakistani Muslim community. Islam is the state religion and is practiced by more then 96 percent of the population. Non-Muslims are despised because they do not follow the teachings of Islam. This mindset of social hierarchy and division is often used as a justification for the abuse against vulnerable religious minorities.

The subordinate position of Christians and Hindus in Pakistan’s society makes it easy for Muslim men to kidnap girls of these communities with total impunity. It is very unlikely that the police, politicians, judges and other influential persons – who are predominantly Muslim – will campaign for and secure the return of these girls and follow through within the criminal justice system.

This permitting and accepting of discrimination against religious minorities at all levels in society enforces perpetrators to commit crimes with total impunity. In the case of Arzoo: her father describes how audacious and brazen the perpetrator was: “Azhar and his family live right across from us. We see them every day, knowing they kidnapped our daughter and they probably know where
Arzoo and Azhar are. Why is the police not doing anything?”

Another factor is the culture of fear within society, which allows the discrimination to continue.

Individuals who question the status quo and challenge Islamic classical understanding, risk their status and position in society and even have to fear for their own lives. Radical Muslims might perceive the campaigning for justice served to Christians and people from other religious minorities as an act of betrayal against the Muslim majority society and Muslim ideology.

Forced conversion and marriage ceremony

Forced conversion and marriage ceremony of already married Kavita to her Muslim abductor. This is the everyday case with minorities in Pakistan. But, no step has been taken.

Advocacy Forum Documents 74 Cases of Forced Conversion in Pakistan’s Punjab Province

An advocacy forum in Pakistan has called on the country’s parliament to investigate the growing number of abductions, forced marriages, and forced conversions of religious minorities in the country’s Punjab province. This request was made in a letter sent to the Parliamentary Committee for Protection from Forced Conversion on August 31.

According to the Center for Social Justice (CSJ), they have documented at least 74 cases of abduction and forced conversion of girls from religious minority communities in Punjab since 2014. This included 55 Christian girls, 18 Hindu girls, and one girl from the Kalashiya community.

The abuse of religion and law is a growing phenomenon in Punjab,” a press statement by CSJ and the People’s Commission on Minorities Rights said. “Minorities feel insecure due to the incidents of forced conversions, particularly of young Christian and Hindu girls.

It is wrong to say that only the Sindh province is affected by the abuse of religion and law,” the press statement continued. “This misconception may be due to the fact that the Sindh Assembly passed a bill in 2016 to address the issue but that failed because the governor of Sindh refused to give assent due to pressure from extremist groups.

According to a 2014 study by The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian communities are abducted, forcefully married to their captors, and forcibly converted to Islam every year. The issue of religion is also often injected into cases of sexual assault to place victims from religious minority communities at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, perpetrators know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.

Senate Body Decides To Study Forced Conversion Cases ‘In Detail’ To Protect Minorities

In order to stop force conversion of citizens belonging to the minority communities, Senate Standing Committee To Protect Minorities from Forced Conversions has decided to study a few cases to identify key areas to stop this practice.

The Senate body under the chairmanship of Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar adopted rules of procedures for the parliamentary committee and discussed possible avenues of moving forward in the administrative approach.

The members decided to take a few cases and study them in detail to identify key areas where gaps were needed to be filled and measures taken to improve the administrative structures so that the citizens belonging to religious minorities are not forced to convert to any other religion.

According to the members of the Senate body, the issue of forced conversion was not a religious, but social. They agreed that steps needed to be taken to strengthen the weak areas to stop this unlawful practice. It also decided to take input and data from the provincial departments and other experts.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), which released its latest State of Human Rights 2019 report on April 30, underlined that on average over 1,000 cases of forced conversions take place in the country every year. A majority of these are suffered by the Hindu community in Sindh