Afghanistan, Pakistan & Bangladesh News

Forced conversions of Hindu girls to Islam “extremely common”

Once again, while we’re told there is “no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2:256), there are in reality numerous means of coercion, many of which are enshrined in Islamic law. Qur’an 9:29 itself offers unbelievers the options of conversion, subjugation, or war — but hey, no compulsion or anything.

And so it is easy for the lines between persuasion and compulsion to become blurred; those in power could care less about splitting hairs on where one ends and the other begins, and subjugated unbelievers would put themselves in danger by calling them out on it. For that matter, we have often seen stories of abducted non-Muslim girls’ being forced to sign documents stating they converted willingly: compulsion in signing a document to prove there was “no compulsion.”

“Pakistan, forced conversions of Hindu girls to Islam. Often unreported out of fear,” from AsiaNews, June 14:

Lahore (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Young Hindu girls forced to become Muslim and forced to marry their captors, denounce Pakistani Hindus members of the Rights Movement for “scheduled castes” recently formed in Pakistan. They also call for greater respect for their rights. Hindus belonging to “scheduled castes”, ie the protected Hindu minorities, form 6% of the total population of Pakistan, and 10% in the region of Sindh, but are under-represented in both public service and in the elected assemblies. In addition, the movement calls for the creation of a law for the registration of marriages of “scheduled castes” that used the term “Hindu” rather than “scheduled castes” in the column that specifies the religion in the registrar, and that the National Parliament promote a law against religious hatred against them.

The movement brings together various ethnic Hindu groups such as the Kolhi, Bhel, Bagri, Meghwar and Rawar. They have no permanent homes, living in temporary camps at the mercy of local land lords. Since the creation of Pakistan the number of seats in Parliament reserved for minorities has never gone beyond 10. This is why the Movement for Rights calls for granted lands, where they can establish their residence, that they be allowed to celebrate religious festivals and the application of the 6% quota reserved for them in public services. The leaders of the movement point out that the situation is such that the groups are kept in a state prison by landowners, and that instances of forced conversions of Hindu girls are extremely common, and not reported. They ask that measures are taken against those responsible.

The Christian minority suffers for similar reasons. A positive development should, however, be noted: a court in Rawalpindi has acquitted three Christians of blasphemy, even though fears that the three may become the target of an act of violence by Islamic radicals. On June 12 court judge Akhter Sarfraz ordered the release of Hector Haleem, Basharat Masih and Robin Masih because the prosecution was not able to provide evidence supporting the charges presented against them last year by a Muslim, Ghufran Sialvi. The accusation was that they had sent blasphemous messages. The court has opened an investigation to prosecute both the Police Commissioner for failure to provide evidence of the charges for the prosecution. Haleem, 55, runs an Pakistani NGO called “Peace Worldwide”.

 

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