Friday, October 2, 2020

Pakistan: Forced Conversion and Marriage Survivor Escapes Kidnapper

I want to pass on a press release from International Christian Concern regarding another forced conversion and marriage in Pakistan. This story comes on the heals of another story in August, in which  a 14 year old Christian girl was abducted at gunpoint, forced to convert to Islam, and forced into a marriage to a Muslim man. She was initially rescued from her abductor, but a Pakistani court ruled the forced conversion and marriage is legal. She was ordered by the court to return to her abductor. In this newest incident, a 22 year old Christian woman managed to escape her abductor after 3 months of captivity, in which her abductor falsely claimed she had converted to Islam and married him. She had been publicly abducted at gunpoint.   

As you read this article, please be mindful that this is NOT some isolated case of some extremist living in a cave in the middle of nowhere. Rather, the Pakistani legal system, a branch of the Pakistani government, openly supports forced conversions, forced marriages, and even forced child marriages of religious minorities. This is mainstream Islam. In today's hyper-politically correct world, we are not supposed to acknowledge that fact. Instead, we are supposed to pretend this is just some isolated case of extremism. It is not. 

An estimated 1,000 Pakistani women and girls from religious minorities are abducted and forced into conversions and marriage each year. Pakistan's Islamic government and legal system supports this situation.  --Timothy Gamble

Forced Conversion Survivor in Pakistan Escapes Kidnapper and Reunites with Family

09/30/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – On September 8, Mehwish Hidayat, a 22-year-old Christian, was reunited with her family after spending three months in captivity. In June, Khurram Shehzad, a Muslim, abducted Hidayat while she traveled to her job at a garment factory in Lahore, Pakistan.

According to Hidayat, Shehzad and several other armed men abducted her while she was waiting for the bus on June 3.

“It was around 7:30 in the morning when I left for the garment factory,” Hidayat told International Christian Concern (ICC). “I was waiting for my bus along with six to eight girls. Suddenly, two armed men appeared from a white car. They showed their guns and warned everyone not to interfere.”

“The kidnappers then dragged me into the car,” Hidayat continued. “All the other girls started shouting, but none of them was in a position to save me as the kidnappers threatened them with their guns.”

For the next three months, Shehzad kept Hidayat in his custody. To justify this captivity, Shehzad fraudulently claimed that Hidayat had converted to Islam and married him.

“For three months Shehzad kept shifting from one city to another and sexually assaulted me,” Hidayat told ICC. “He often tortured me for refusing to sign the conversion and marriage certificate. He forced me to recite Islamic proclamations and verses. However, I remained committed to my Christian faith.”

In June, Hidayat was produced before a court to make a statement regarding the marriage and conversion. Under threat, Hidayat gave tainted testimony in support of Shehzad.

“My statement in the court was in favor of my kidnapper, however, I made that statement to save my family and protect myself,” Hidayat explained to ICC. “Shehzad threatened me and my family with death threats if I went against his will.”

After three months in Shehzad’s custody, Hidayat seized an opportunity to escape. She fled Shehzad and reunited with her family in Lahore.

“I escaped from Shehzad’s custody and rejoined my family,” Hidayat told ICC. “However, our lives will always be in danger. My family is continuously receiving threats from Shehzad.”

According to a study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted to Islam every year. Sexual assaults and fraudulent marriages are used by perpetrators to entrap victims and authorities are often complicit.

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.

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