Persecution of Ex-Muslims (Pakistan)

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Attacked by her own family and raped for converting to Christianity, ex-Muslim leaves her home city of Karachi with her Christian husband and two young daughters[edit]

Attacked by her own family, one Muslim’s decision to convert to Christianity highlights the precarious situation of Muslims in Pakistan who leave their faith.

Sehar Muhammad Shafi, 24, has fled her home city of Karachi with her husband and two young daughters after being attacked and raped for changing her faith.

With help from the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, the Christian couple has relocated to another city. But as long as Shafi and her family remain in Pakistan, they must hide the truth of Shafi’s conversion.
. . .
In 1999, Shafi began work for a medical company, Glaxo Wellcome plc, where she focused her energy on proselytizing a co-worker, a Christian named Naveed Paul. Paul had an interest in apologetics and engaged Shafi in religious discussions, inviting her to church with him.

Four years later, Shafi decided to become a Christian, and a local pastor secretly baptized her. “I had shared Islam with [Paul] and wanted to convert him, but instead I realized that my life was empty without Jesus,” Shafi said.

Shafi’s family was not aware of her conversion, but sometimes they would beat her when they found her singing Psalms to herself. Once they ripped up a Bible they discovered her reading.
Pakistan: Woman Raped for Leaving Islam
Compass Direct, June 23, 2006

New apostasy bill to impose the death penalty on Muslim men and life in prison on Muslim women in case they leave Islam[edit]

A draft bill adopted in first reading by Pakistan’s National Assembly is now before a standing committee. Tabled by a six-party politico-religious alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal or MMA, the Apostasy Act 2006 which the government sent to the committee would impose the death penalty on Muslim men and life in prison on Muslim women in case they leave Islam. It would also force them to forfeit their property and lose legal custody of children.

During the same session, lawmakers rejected another draft bill moved by minority MNA Bhandara which sought to amend the existing blasphemy law.
. . .
Should the bill become law anyone who leaves Islam for another religion can be sentenced to death (if male) or life in prison ‘until repentance occurs’ (if female).

Section 4 of the bill says that the offender’s own confession in court or the testimony by at least two adults is sufficient grounds for conviction in apostasy cases. Testimony by non Muslims is not however admissible in certain Pakistani courts.

Section 5 stipulates that the ‘offender’ must be granted 3 to 30 days to recant the conversion and return to Islam. But even in cases where the person returns to Islam judges can impose two-year sentences as punishment for the original ‘crime’. The accused can convert and reconvert up to three times before the death sentence becomes automatic.

Under Section 8 apostates forfeit all their properties which are awarded only to their Muslim relatives. Section 9 says that they also lose custody to any minor in their care and guardianship, including their biological children.

Teenager who converted to Christianity goes into hiding after escaping death at the hands of her family, who beat her and unsuccessfully demanded she return to Islam[edit]

A Pakistani teen who embraced Christianity has escaped death at the hands of her family, who unsuccessfully demanded she recant her faith, an international ministry group says. Voice of the Martyrs said the girl, identified only as Diana, now is in hiding for her life.

She grew up in a strict Islamic family in Pakistan, the group said, and her life was "typical" until she met a girl named Mary who was a Christian, and Diana decided to embrace the faith.
. . .
"When Diana's family learned that she had become a Christian, they repeatedly beat her and insisted she return to Islam," the organization, which ministers to the persecuted Christian church worldwide, said.

"But Diana refused. She was then forced to a local canal where her uncle put a pistol to her head and gave her one last chance to return to Islam. Diana replied, 'You can kill me if you want. I will not leave Christ,'" VOM confirmed.
Christian Pakistani teen escapes death
WorldNetDaily, August 30, 2006

New poll finds 78% of Muslims support the death penalty for leaving Islam ('extremist' Muslims are not the minority)[edit]

– 83 percent support stoning adulterers

– Consistent with previous polls where 75 percent have called for implementation of strict Sharia law by Pakistan government

Pew Global Press Release

Complete report
— Report page 3 — “The new poll finds broad support for harsh punishments: 78% favor death for those who leave Islam; 80% favor whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery; and 83% favor stoning adulterers.”
— Questions 62b, 62c, and 62d, page 17

— Page 18 – “only 16% of Pakistanis express a favorable view of the U.S.”

Schoolteacher and Ahmadi Convert from Islam who faced opposition from relatives and whom local clerics declared “liable to be killed”, is shot dead in front of students[edit]

As his students watched, a recent convert to the Ahmadi faith, Dilawar Hussain, 42, was shot dead at a government primary school in a village in Sheikhupura on Saturday.

According to the FIR registered, the deceased was shot twice while he was taking a class at the primary school in Dere Golianwala.

Hussain, along with his wife, Ishrat Bibi, and four children, had recently converted to the Ahmadi faith. His family was the only one in the village belonging to the Ahmadiyya community, Sheikhupura’s Ameer Jamaat Ahmadiyya Chaudhry Abdul Hameed Bhatti told The Express Tribune.

He said the deceased’s siblings boycotted him after his conversion and other relatives went against him when local clerics declared him “liable to be killed”.

Bhatti said even his brothers, one of whom is a police officer, did not want to register an FIR and become a complainant. Instead, they made Ishrat Bibi the complainant and prepared the application themselves.

Hussain’s relatives refused to own his body. At the same time, they created obstacles for his widow to take the body away from the village to Rabwah, the headquarters of the Ahmaddiya community. However, under police security, she finally managed to take the body away.

Sheikhupura SHO Shahid Zafar Gujjar said that as the FIR was registered against two unidentified people, they had no information about the murderers.

The SHO said authorities will be able to trace out the assailants once the witness identifies them. He added that the police had completed the legal requirements by getting autopsy of the body and registering the FIR. He revealed FIR # 1146/11 under section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code had been registered against the assailants.

Saleemuddin, a spokesperson for Jamat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan, condemned the murder and demanded the immediate arrest of the accused. He said fatwas declaring members of the Ahmadi sect “liable to be killed” were being issued in different parts of the country and these religious edicts were being published in vast numbers. This, according to Saleemuddin, has resulted in target killings of many Ahmadis.
Ahmadi schoolteacher shot dead in Sheikhupura
Rana Tanveer, The Express Tribune, October 3, 2011

Woman who has a Christian husband is accused of apostasy, 25 men assault her, shave her head and parade her through her village[edit]

As many as 25 men arrested for assaulting a woman they accused of apostasy, shaving her head and parading her through Bhegewala village, will be presented before an anti-terrorism court in Gujranwala on Friday (today).

The suspects including – Ayub Kashmiri, Naveed Ahmed, Nawab Din, Akram and Amanat Ali – were arrest by Bhegewala police and an FIR was registered against them under Section 354 of the Pakistan Penal Code on Wednesday after the incident was reported. Section 7 of the ATA (punishment for acts of terrorism) was added to the FIR on Thursday on a directive by judicial magistrate Qaiser Shahzad.

Sana Bibi*, 45, is now living with a daughter at her house in a Gujranwala village.

Talking to The Express Tribune, she rejected the apostasy charge.

“I had settled in the village after converting to Islam about six months ago. I’m still a Muslim though I’m disappointed in the way I have been humiliated by some of my fellow Muslims,” she said.

Sana* also rejected the allegation that she was still living with or seeing her Christian husband.

She said whenever she had been absent from the village she was visiting one of her daughters who were married and living with their husbands in Gujranwala.
. . .
Talking to The Tribune, some of the villagers defended the suspects. They alleged that Sana* was seeing her Christian husband and argued that this amounted to apostasy.

“If someone leaves a religion and converts to Islam, they have to abandon their relatives from the previous religion as well,” they said.

60-year-old converts from Christianity to Islam without reprisals, then reconverts to Christianity, is threatened by clerics, and disgraced by Muslims who torture her, shave her head, garland her with shoes and parade her[edit]

Sixty-year-old Seema Bibi went from being a Christian to a Muslim, and back, in six months – but fellow villagers did not take kindly to this change of heart, and religion.

Seema was tortured – her head shaved – and paraded through the streets of village Kot Marth, garlanded with shoes, police officials and residents said.

After receiving threats of ‘dire consequences’ from village clerics, Seema and her family have migrated from Kot Marth, sources added.

Seema, wife of Yousaf Masih, had converted to Islam six months ago, but went back to her original faith a few days ago, inviting the locals’ ire, officials said.

In ‘retaliation’ for the reconversion, about 27 locals, at the behest of one Muhammad Ayub, tortured Seema, shaved her head, garlanded her with shoes and paraded her through the village streets on February 26.

Police were not aware of the incident and consequently there was a delay in registering a case, SHO Begowala police station Munawar Hussain Shah told The Express Tribune. A case has been registered against Ayub and others, Shah said.

The motive behind the villagers’ ‘retaliation’ was the reconversion from Islam to Christianity, the official said, adding that all 27 accused identified by Seema have been arrested.

Police have stepped up surveillance in the village after the incident, due to tensions between the Muslims and the Christians, he said.

Following the assault, Seema and her family left the village to save their lives, Shah said, adding that police would have ensured their safety had they stayed behind.

Seema and her husband, talking to The Express Tribune from an undisclosed location via telephone, said that they left the village after receiving consistent threats of ‘dire consequences’ from extremists in their area.

Some of the accused have also been freed on bail, they said. “We left the village since we had no other option,” her husband added.

16-year-old Christian convert from Islam remains missing some two weeks after being kidnapped by Muslims in the volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provinces[edit]

A 16-year-old Christian convert from Islam remained missing Friday, June 7, some two weeks after he was kidnapped by Islamic militants in Pakistan's volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Christian said.

Aman Ullah was reportedly taken by fighters of a militant Taliban group on May 25 in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the former Northwest Frontier Province.

"We don’t know which of the 32 different Taliban groups operating both in Afghanistan and Pakistan is responsible," said John Taimoor, president of mission group 'Crossbearers Ministry' which works among former Muslims.

"My team, workers and disciples from Muslim backgrounds are facing pressures from many sides and physical persecution," he said in a statement. However, "We are looking to our Savior who is able to save us to the uttermost..."

MEMORIZING BIBLE BOOKS

There was no known statement from the Taliban on Friday, June 7, though the group has spoken in the past to media in other kidnapping cases.

The young kidnap victim, who became a Christian a year ago and evangelized, had memorized the books of John and Ephesians in the Bible, said Taimoor who gave the boy Bible lessons. His goal was to memorize the entire New Testament as he had already memorized the Koran, Taimoor recalled.

“He is very dear to me. Aman Ullah means ‘peace of God’ in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Pushto languages," the official said. "He is a diamond, very dedicated and brilliant. He was outgoing; he made public statements and gave his testimony."

Taimoor’s group helps young converts such as Aman to memorize the Biblical Book of Ephesians and demonstrate "seriousness about growing in their faith" to impact other Muslims.
. . .
Taliban militants have been linked to several attacks against Christians, including former Muslims, as part of their crusade against what they view as a Western religion and colonialism.