The condition of minorities in the Muslim countries is deteriorating day by day. The following factsheet will examine how the status of Christians are attacked in the Islamic nations especially Pakistan. In countries like Afghanistan, Indonesia, and the African countries etc. where the minorities are the mercy of their leadership are suffering the insufferable conditions.
However, the EU nations and India have bashed and questioned the questionable shrinking population and atrocities unleashed on the minorities in the Islamic nations. The coerced conversions, marriages and demolition of veneration locations have become the ‘common’ norms or tools to destroy and eradicate the identity of the minorities.
Several reports are emerging everyday on the insufferable and miserable circumstances of the Christian minority in the Muslim dominated countries. The minors, women and pastors are irrationally targeted by the religion conversion nexus.
The haunting clip of Reena Kumari Meghwar calling for help from the rooftop of her alleged abductor’s house in Badin district of Sindh province encapsulated the horrors of forced conversions of minority Hindu and Christian girls in Pakistan.
Another incident where a Christian rickshaw driver from Faisalabad, Gulzar Masih, is fighting for the custody of his 13-year-old daughter Chashman, who too was allegedly forcibly converted and married to Muhammad Usman after her abduction. While the police mentioned her age as 17 in the FIR filed by Gulzar, the nikahnama (marriage certificate) claims she is 19.
The Lahore High Court, which rejected the father’s petition, said in its order that “Muslim jurists regard mental capacity of a child as of crucial importance” when considering the question of conversion, adding that there is no minimum age for conversion mentioned either in Quran or hadith.
These cases are not isolated from each other. This displays the longing of countless families who still wait for their daughters to return home. But they are seeking justice from a system that is stacked against them.
A Muslim mob has allegedly killed a pastor identified as Reverend Yohanna Shuaibu in Massu, a village in the Sumaila Local Government Area of Kano State. The mob also burnt down the slain pastor’s house, church, and mission school.
Young Christian woman, Arushma Ejaz, turned to Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) for help. A man named Ghulam Jelani has been stalking her for a while, going so far as to try to kidnap her back in mid-July in order to convert her to Islam and force her to marry him. Page 1 Pastor Rafaqat Yaqoob watched helplessly as laborers removed the cross from the Church of the Nazarene after an angry mob of more than 200 local Muslims surrounded it. “Demolish it. Make them [Christians] flee,” shouted the mob led by a cleric from the local madrasa (Islamic religious school). A small community of Christians in Afghanistan face multiple dangers following the Taliban takeover and withdrawal of US-led forces, Christian rights activists and observers say.
The lives of minority Christians have become more difficult than ever and they are bracing for increased persecution under Taliban rule. Following the Taliban takeover of Afghan capital Kabul on August 15, 2021, a Christian leader appealed to the country’s Christian community to keep a low profile and stay home to avoid being targeted by Taliban fighters. International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that on August 26, 2021, a 17-year-old Christian woman was detained by Egyptian police as she was leaving a Cairo church. The young woman is a Christian convert from Islam. Muslim converts are frequently threatened by their family members and detained by the Egyptian authorities, making their situation particularly perilous. Indonesian police arrested a Muslim cleric and charged him with blasphemy for allegedly insulting Christians. He is accused of calling the Bible "fictitious and false" in one of his sermons. Indonesian police have arrested a Christian Youtuber after a video he uploaded on Youtube went viral and offended Muslims around the country. Muhammad Kace, a former Muslim, was taken away by the police from his hideout in Bali, after a series of complaints were filed by Muslims accusing him of blasphemy. His latest sermon video allegedly insulted Prophet Muhammad by claiming the prophet was “surrounded by devils and liars.”
The Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo said that the Allied Democratic Force (ADF), whose members are mostly Islamists has killed about 6,000 civilians since 2013, while a respected U.S.-based monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), blames it for more than 1,200 deaths in the Beni area alone since 2017. A respected watchdog group reports more than 1,470 people have been killed this year in Nigeria and more than 2,200 abducted in a worsening Islamic insurgency. The “egregious and grisly massacre of Christians in Nigeria” comes as ISWAP (or Islamic State West Africa Province) announced the death of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, who supervised the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014. The state of Christians in Pakistan is highly alarming. The incidents surfacing on the news, internet and reports by various portals are removing the veil of ignorance.
The pretentious society is compelled to acknowledge the deplorable situation of the minorities in Pakistan. Page 2 As in preceding years, Pakistan witnessed substantial human rights violations in 2020, from forced conversions of religious minorities and crimes against women to enforced disappearances and curbs on freedom of expression, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has said in its annual report. The houses of 450 Catholic Families In Hyderabad (Pakistan) And Karachi Were Destroyed as part of an anti-encroachment drive—targeting homes considered to be illegal settlements—by the Sindh provincial government. Caritas Pakistan’s Karachi chapter and the Catholic Women’s Organization (CWO) jointly organized an awareness seminar with women and girls on forced conversion, child marriage and women’s rights.
Various incidents of abduction and forced marriages are revealed which displays the plight of the minorities and the situation of women in Pakistan. A Pakistani court has ordered the arrest of an Islamist cleric accused of solemnising the marriage of a minor Christian girl under pressure, coercion and influence in the southern city of Karachi. Neha Pervaiz, 15, was sexually assaulted, forcibly converted to Islam and then married off to a 45-year-old Muslim man. A minor Christian girl in Pakistan was allegedly raped after she refused to convert to Islam, Pakistani netizens claimed. The hashtag, #JusticeforSunitaMasih,had been trending on Twitter after several prominent personalities, including celebrities and civil society members, tweeted about the incident, calling on Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice and ensure that justice was provided to the girl. Action Committee for Christian Rights, that fights for the justice for Pakistani Christian girls held protest in front of the Dutch Parliament. It called for overseas Pakistani Christian community of Holland and Belgium to raise voice against Pakistani authorities over the atrocities committed on minor Christian's girls as they are kidnapped and raped. A Muslim couple in Pakistan’s Punjab province forcibly converted a 13-year-old Christian girl to Islam so that she could work as a cook in their kitchen and touch utensils and food items. Now they are refusing to allow her to return home to her parents unless they pay a ransom.
The forced conversion of girls from religious minorities to Islam continues unabated in Pakistan and the victim is a 13-year-old Christian girl. The incident took place in Gujranwala city of Pakistan where the teenage girl was kidnapped and converted to Islam. According to her father, the kidnapper, who is Muslim, later married her forcefully. The father of the victim is seeking justice for his family. Page 3 Two Christian woman are facing the death penalty in Pakistan for removing a sticker with a verse from the Koran from a Muslim colleague's locker they were asked to clean. Pakistan has strict blasphemy laws which carry a death penalty for people who insult the Prophet Muhammad, Islam, the Quran or certain holy people. Blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue in deeply conservative Pakistan where mere allegations have led to extrajudicial killings and mob violence. In February 2021, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), an NGO based out of Lahore, Pakistan, released data that showed the abuse of blasphemy laws had increased exponentially in Pakistan, reported Pentapostagma.
Human rights campaigners have long sought the repeal of blasphemy laws, arguing they are used to victimize religious minorities or settle personal scores. Christian human rights groups in Pakistan are urging local courts to reject Sharia punishments for the blasphemy accused in the Muslim majority country which is being misused by individuals and religious groups. Despite international condemnation over Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws, which carry the death penalty, observers note that Christians continue to become common targets of discrimination of the laws. a persistent, apparently without reason, discrimination has turned into persecution against Christians, which is seen in cases where allegations are mostly baseless.
More than 90 per cent of the country's Christians reside in Punjab. And 60 per cent live in villages, and in most cases are more indigenous to their areas than Muslims. Blasphemy and desecration of the Quran are used against them. The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a Lahore-based rights group, urged the Parliamentary Committee for Protection from Forced Conversion to visit Punjab to investigate the growing number of cases of forced religious conversions. The largest Christian human rights association of Bangladesh, ‘the Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA)’ has asked the government of Pakistan to repeal the controversial blasphemy law. The BCA submitted a memorandum to the Pakistan embassy in Dhaka 2020 demanding to end persecution and harassment of Christians and other minorities.
Minorities in Pakistan are the main victims of forced conversions as there have been numerous complaints of underaged Hindus and Christian girls being forced to get married or to change their religion in the country. there is an international obligation on the Imran Khan administration to fulfil, minorities in the country are facing numerous challenges including dearth of economic opportunities. The province of Sindh is worse affected with multiple reports of underaged Hindu girls being forcibly married. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, Christian, Hindus, and Qadiani make up the main minorities. Minorities were undercounted in Page 4 the official census. Major undercounting was done in provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochsitan and Sindh.
Christian and Muslim activists have rejected renaming a British-era hospital as part of ongoing Islamization in Pakistan. In a notification issued on July 1, 2021, Punjab Healthcare and Medical Education Department changed the name of Bahwal Victoria Hospital to Sadiq Abbasia Hospital. Founded in 1906 during the period of Bahawalpur Nawab (IV), the hospital was jointly named after him and Britain’s Queen Victoria. The present government first nationalized Edwardes College and now they changed the name of the hospital. According to the Catholic Church's directory, 504 educational institutes were functional until 2010. Only 355 are now running in seven dioceses. A Christian in Pakistan had agricultural lands, inherited from his father, stolen from him by a Muslim tenant. Due to widespread discrimination, the Christian fears he will never regain possession of his land. Police in Pakistan's Saddar region recently registered a case against 66 people, 20 of them unidentified, for allegedly torturing four members of a Christian community over a ‘trifle’ issue.
Christian couple were arrested in 2013 and sentenced to hang in Toba Tek Singh town of Punjab province in addition to a fine of 200,000 rupees (US$1,310) after being convicted of sending text messages insulting the Prophet Muhammad. On 13 January Model Town police station, Lahore registered a blasphemy case under section 295 -A, B and C, Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which has a mandatory death penalty, against two young Christians, Haroon Ayub Masih and Salamat Mansha Masih. The complainant Haroon Ahmad said in his statement that while he was in the Model Town Park with his friends Harris Khalid, Zakir Ali and Zulqarnain, two Christian boys approached them and introduced themselves as Haroon Ayub and Salamat Mansha and handed over a copy of a Christian booklet “Water of Life” and started preaching about Christianity. The National Commission of Justice and Peace, the human rights arm of the Karachi Archdiocese, hosted the seminar wherein Minority lawmakers, human rights activists, and women rights defenders joined the discussion on "fundamental rights of religious minorities in the constitution of Pakistan and forced conversion of religious minorities.”
Minority rights activists have called on Pakistan's parliament and provincial assemblies to take legal steps to end forced conversion and marriages involving girls from religious minorities. Page 5 Father Saleh Diego, diocesan director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace and vicar general of the Archdiocese of Karachi had announced in 2020 that it was pursuing legal action against the religious conversion of underage girls belonging to Pakistan’s beleaguered non-Muslim population. According to Centre for Social Justice, 162 cases of questionable conversions of minority girls were reported in Pakistan’s media between 2013 and November 2020. More than 54% of victims (girls and women) belonged to the Hindu community, while 44% were Christians. 46% of victims were minors, with nearly 33% aged 11-15, while only 17 % of victims were above 18.
Maira Shahbaz was 14 years old when she was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam last year. The girl was a Catholic – was had been raped, then forced by the Lahore High Court to marry one of her abductors. She’s one of an estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls who are kidnapped, forced to convert and marry their captors in Pakistan each year. A 10-year-old Christian girl suffered a rape attempt by one of her Muslim neighbors in a Christian settlement in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi, leading to an angry protest by the minority community. Asia Bibi, the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan – has called on the country’s Prime Minister to help the country’s Christian girls who are abducted, raped and forced to marry their captors. Amid the recent surge in mob violence and religious persecution in Pakistan, the EU Parliament called for a review of Pakistan’s GSP+ status, citing concerns over the latter’s blasphemy laws and poor rights record. On April 29, 2021 the EU passed a resolution decrying a deterioration of what was already a terrible record of religious persecution in the country. India has strongly condemned the atrocities on the minorities and slammed the indifferent government of Pakistan towards the apathy of the non- Muslim communities. India said that it is high-time that Pakistan, a "failed state", is held accountable for its state-sponsored terrorism and urged the UN Human Rights Council to pay urgent attention to its deplorable human rights records and discriminatory treatment of its ethnic and religious minorities.
India also said that Pakistan must stop preaching and focus on its responsibility towards the millions suffering in the country. India urged the UNHRC to ask Pakistan why the size of its minority communities has drastically shrunk since Independence and why some communities have been subjected to draconian blasphemy laws, systemic persecution, blatant abuses and forced conversions. Pakistani Christian has fallen prey to the uncompassionate Pakistan’s government. There is no proper protection rendered to the minorities residing in the country, thus Page 6 adding to their vulnerabilities. The Pakistani judiciary has also not taken a strong stand in interpreting the blasphemy laws which has made the lives of Christians and other minorities a living hell. Thus, this has paved way for the instances of underage forced marriages and conversion to surge.
In all aspects of the society the minorities have been undermined and discriminated, whether its education, veneration, the right to express, property et al. It has questioned the already questionable credibility of Pakistan. It has some impediments which have extremely serious repercussions on the long-term stability of Pakistan. Thus, the already crisis stricken, financially drained, politically and administratively hollow Pakistan has itself added this grave adversity to its kitty