Pakistan and religious minorities: Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and others feel betrayed
Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi
Modern Tokyo Times
In Pakistan, a Parliamentary Committee rejected an important bill to protect religious minorities. This concerns non-Muslim women being forced to convert to Islam after being abducted by Muslim males.
Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and religious minorities including the Ahmadiyya, face institutional discrimination to a level that is unimaginable. Hence, even when religious minorities notify the police about raped women being forced to marry their captors, the law is far from equal.
AsiaNews reports, “Rwadari Tehreek held a protest in Islamabad against a parliamentary committee that recently rejected a bill to protect minorities and ban forced conversions.”
The BBC reports, “Farah, a 12-year-old Christian girl, says she was taken from her home in Pakistan last summer, shackled, forced to convert to Islam and made to marry her kidnapper. It’s a fate estimated to befall hundreds of young Christian, Hindu and Sikh women and children in the country each year.”
Farah said, “They’d put chains on my ankles, and tied me with a rope. I tried to cut the rope and get the chains off, but I couldn’t manage it. I prayed every night, saying, ‘God, please help me.'”
Of special concern are the regions of Sindh and Punjab, despite this threat being throughout the country. However, the Parliamentary Committee rejected the bill that would give religious minorities more rights. Therefore, Islamists to ordinary Muslim power control mechanisms over non-Muslims is set to continue concerning force conversions.
The Deputy Director at Minority Rights Group International, Claire Thomas, said, “The failure to address this acute problem means that the Government of Pakistan, and its institutions (the police, judiciary and social services) are hampered in their attempts to end the impunity of those who carry out abductions, rape and early age/child marriage under cover of forced conversion; and means that grievances will continue to build within minority communities who experience or witness such events but fail to get any remedy.”
Reuters reports, “Campaigners say forced conversion and marriage of girls and women from minority religions, including Hindus and Christians, is a growing problem in Muslim-majority Pakistan, with those from poor families and low castes largely targeted.”
Lee Jay Walker says, “Islamist leaning politicians astonishingly deem the bill to be ‘anti-Islam.’ However, how would they react if the reversal was happening in Europe? Therefore, the supporters of religious apartheid are alive and kicking throughout the upper echelons of the state institutions of Pakistan.”
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