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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Marriage, mobs and murder

Faryal Bibi aka Rinkal Kumari, example of kidnapped hindu girl

We have often documented the increasing numbers of minority girls and woman kidnapped and forcibly married and converted to Islam.  In the Sindh province it is often Hindu girls who are kidnapped in this fashion.  Although some of them say they have done so willingly out of love for Muslim men, it is known or strongly suspected in most cases that this is not true - a typical tactic is to tell them that if they don't say this, their families will be killed or have blasphemy charges made against them.  This suspicion is further heightened in a recent case in Karachi.  A Hindu factory worker, Sooda, went to court because his teenage daughter Rekha, had been taken in such a manner from their house in Gadap town, near Karachi, in December, by Ashgar, the supervisor of the factory she worked in.  In court she was dressed in a full black chaddur, so they couldn't see her at all, but she said she had converted and married willingly - the case was immediately dismissed.... and the family has never seen her again, despite the immediate promises after the court of elders from Ashgar's village that they would be allowed to meet her.  Sooda says that her family are not allowed to see her because she is Muslim and they are Hindu - even though Islamic scholars say it is fine for them to meet, but not for her to partake in any Hindu celebrations.  

Human rights workers on the ground say this is the norm, and ask if these are willing conversions, why are these girls not allowed to see their families after their 'conversion'?  BPCA asks the same.


Whilst the blasphemy laws are disproportionately used against minorities, they are also used against Muslim citizens of Pakistan.  In a horrific recent case, a man named Ghulam Abbas, who was reportedly mentally ill, was accused of desecrating the Quran and arrested, but a mob stormed the police station, dragged him out and burnt him alive, injuring a number of police officers in the process.  This happened in the Chani Goth area of Punjab, and has been a trigger point for increased religious tension and attacks, leaving local Christians in fear of their lives.  A local priest says it is part of the increasing lawlessness and religious intolerance in the region.  


A recent bombing involving a motorbike killed six Christians, although the target was apparently some Shia pilgrims on another bus that passed by at nearly the same time.  Local sources said that both Pakistani and Afghan Christians were on the bus, and some of them were graduates of a Middle Eastern bible school on the way to work in missions in the Balochistan province.  At least 40 other people were injured in the attack near Quetta, and 10 of the injured are also reported to be Christians.  A charity that supports the bible school is trying to raise funds for families of the victims.  

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