In Selected Opinion

By Raymond Ibrahim –

A Muslim father-of-four abducted a 13-year-old Christian girl, forced her to convert to Islam, and then “married” her.  According to the father of Nayab Gill, when the beauty school she was attending shut down due to the COVID-19 lockdown, Saddam Hayat, a local Muslim who ran his own beauty shop, “told me that rather than wasting time, Nayab should learn salon skills to help her in supporting the family financially.  He even offered to pick her up from home and drop her off after work, assuring us that she was just like his daughter.”   He had also promised to pay the girl Rs.10,000 (US$63) per month for her services, but stopped paying her after a couple of months.  When the girl went missing on May 20, her frantic parents turned to Hayat, who claimed not to know where she was, and kindly offered to help them find her, including by instructing Nayab’s simple and trusting mother to fill out the missing person’s report in a way that did not implicate him.

“On May 26, we were informed by the police that Nayab was in the Darul Aman [women’s shelter] since May 21,” her father continues. “In an application submitted to a magistrate’s court, Nayab claimed she had willfully converted to Islam a month ago …” According to this application, Nayab also claimed to be 19-years-old, and an Islamic marriage certificate was registered on May 20 claiming she had married Hayat.  That same day the family managed to meet with Nayab at the women’s shelter.   She told her grandmother that she wanted to go home and was willing to sign anything to do so.  At that point, her “husband” and the police—having been notified by a shelter staffer that Nayab was in direct contact with her family—barged in and forcibly separated them.  On the following day, a visibly battered Nayab appeared before court and reaffirmed that she was 19-years-old and had converted to Islam of her own free will.  “Our lawyer did not show up at the hearing, so my wife and I directly approached the judge and presented all official documents to prove that my daughter was born on Oct. 16, 2007, which makes her 13 years and seven months old,” her father explained.

We told the judge that she was lying about her age under duress. She had bruises on her face, and her eyes were also red, which should have caught the judge’s attention, but he ignored it….  [In the end] Judge Jameel relied solely on Nayab’s statements made under obvious threat, rather than official documents, and failed to order an ossification test to determine her age….  My mother [the girl’s grandmother] collapsed in the courtroom as soon as the judge gave his order, and while we were attending to her, the police quietly spirited Nayab away.

In a separate incident, a group of Muslims abducted a Christian teenager, drugged and held him captive for five days, and repeatedly raped and tortured him, before dumping him in a desolate region.  Danish Masih, 17, vanished on June 6.  Although his father immediately reported his son’s disappearance to police, they showed no interest and failed to act.  Discussing this incident, a local human rights activist said,  “As Christians we are a minority and we are alone. For us there is no justice and no equal rights.”  No one has since been arrested.  According to the report, “Danish’s is not an isolated case. Violence against Christians in Pakistan is commonplace,” and includes a “rising number of abductions, child sexual abuses, forced conversions and forced marriages.”

In another incident, a young Christian woman was beat and raped in her home for refusing to convert to Islam and marry her rapist.  Neelam Masih shared her experiences in a June 7 report.  She was home alone when Faisal Basra  “entered my home at gunpoint.”

[He] dragged me to my bedroom and began to punch and kick me.  He threw me on the bed and started to rape me. He demanded I marry him and convert to Islam. I refused. I am not willing to deny Jesus and he said that if I would not agree he would kill me.  He hit me on the face with his pistol and I shouted and screamed and tried to escape but he kept pulling me back, dragging me by my hair.

Eventually Neelam’s neighbor, who is also her second cousin, heard her cries and came rushing to the house, at which point the rapist fled into the night.  Neelam, who is studying for a Master of Philosophy degree, said that, as the only educated Christian woman in her village, she is committed to speaking out against oppression and abuse, despite “reports that friends and family” of the Muslim rapist “are trying to hunt her down and kill her for standing up to him.”

I want the world to know what happened to me…  I am determined to struggle for my faith, my life and my community….  My family is very poor. My mother has two jobs as a sweeper and has done everything she can for my education and it is very important that I stand up for my community.

“Neelam is a very brave woman,”  said her lawyer, adding that it is “very unusual” for rape victims to go public in Pakistan:

Struggling against this man has taken great courage….  Most girls feel ashamed and submit to the demands of the attacker. They don’t want to tell anyone. They are usually easily threatened. But Neelam remains faithful to Jesus and is determined to tell her story to bring an end to attacks on Christian girls and young women.

In yet another incident, a group of Muslim men led by one Muhammad Akbar—a man known to have kidnapped Christian women before—abducted a Christian mother of five.  She spent over 20 days in captivity being drugged, raped, and beaten.  Discussing her ordeal, her husband  said during an interview in between tears,

We are poor and Christian therefore the police are not taking any action against the abductor, and because he has heavily bribed the police. But I want justice for my wife. I want all the kidnappers arrested and punished for their crimes so they can stop kidnapping more Christian women.

Finally, according to a June 24 report, a “Muslim doctor forcefully converted a 13-year-old Christian girl to Islam,” so she could “work in their family kitchen.”  The doctor was initially looking to employ two girls in his house.  An impoverished Christian family with eight children sent two of their daughters, aged 13 and 11, to work there.  The agreement was that they would be paid Rs.10,000 per month (US$63); and although this was a live-in job, the girls’ family could visit them.  At the end of the month, however, Dr. Altaf only paid them Rs.3,000 (US$19).  The poor family had no choice but to accept it.  But matters soon worsened.  According to the report,

Neha and Sneha worked there for four years, during this time they started complaining about mistreatment by the family, who would swear at them and even physically assault them. The girls were being treated like slaves and were hardly allowed to meet their parents. They told the family that they wanted to go back home and live with their family, but Dr Altaf did not allow them to leave.

Both girls were missing their family. Sneha [aged 11] fell ill and wasn’t any help to Dr Altaf’s family therefore they agreed to send her back to her parents, but they were not willing to return Neha [aged 13].

Masih requested that Dr Altaf return his oldest daughter too as he was not willing to leave his daughter behind, but Dr Altaf told him that Neha had embraced Islam therefore she could not live with him.

It was a shocking revelation for Masih and [he] refused to accept it. Dr Altaf explained that since they were Muslims, it was not possible for them to allow any non-Muslim to enter the kitchen and touch their food items and kitchen utensils.

Dr Altaf dropped another bombshell on Masih, telling him they had mistakenly overpaid him, 275,000 (US$1,750) and until you pay it back, he won’t be able to get his daughter back.

“Perhaps Pakistan is the only country where such crimes are happening on a daily basis under the cover of Islam,” said one human rights activist while discussing this incident. “It cannot be justified at any cost that a young girl was converted to Islam against her will and without her parents’ knowledge and now she cannot be returned to her parents because her parents are Christians.”


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