Forced conversion

Published: March 17, 2012

The operation of forced conversions is taking place in a far more organised manner than previously thought. DESIGN: JAHANZAIB HAQUE

The issue of forced conversions of Hindu women to Islam, after being abducted and made to marry Muslim men, has been raised vociferously by leaders of the Hindu community. But now, it seems that the whole operation of forced conversions is taking place in a far more organised manner than had been previously thought.

The PPP MNA Dr Azra Fazl, who is also President Asif Ali Zardari’s sister, has said that Hindu women are being kept in madarssas in Sindh and then forced to wed Muslim men. She stated this is what had happened in the case of Faryal Shah, a Hindu girl whose conversion has created much controversy in Sindh. Dr Fazl’s words come just as California Congressman Brad Sherman’s letter on the case reached President Zardari, demanding that Faryal be returned to her family.

Several other members of the National Assembly backed Dr Fazl, including members of the minority communities. The attention directed towards the matter by the legislature is important. What is happening to minority community members — especially women, who are doubly vulnerable, needs to be taken up at the national level. Clerics and madrassa leaders, acting against Hindus must be penalised under the law. There must also be a wider effort to alter mindsets, which lead to the harassment of the community and the increasing cases of abduction in the first place. As a result of these and the kidnappings for ransom seen in Balochistan, thousands of Hindus have fled their homes and moved across the border into India.

It is shameful that we cannot keep our minority communities safe. The long delay and the equally long silence from mainstream society on the issue have worsened matters. It is hard to say what will happen next. The tide of hatred and intolerance that has swept across our country is difficult to reverse. But some effort to do so must be made, so that, in time, we can return to a situation in which members of different religious communities are able to coexist.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2012.

Reader Comments (32)

  • Mirza
    Mar 17, 2012 - 8:45PM

    To be woman in Pakistani society is a curse. The worse scenario is a minority woman and the worst being a Hindu woman. These atrocities are common and not new. What is new and alarming is they are happening at such a high and organized level. Let us all think in terms of our own sisters and daughters and provide them with dignity, equality and protection. True education, continued democratic process and openness in society can improve the situation but only in the long run. Sad to say but OBL’s harem and kids are safer in Pakistan than its own citizens.

    Recommend

  • MarkH
    Mar 17, 2012 - 8:53PM

    Nobody is going to come to love a religion when it’s forced on them. It takes on the image of a cult and even the actual followers end up getting their sincerity questioned when that happens.
    They’re not doing Islam any favors.

    Recommend

  • Perplexed
    Mar 17, 2012 - 9:09PM

    its sad tht the muslim minorities of India too are indulging in such acts and the hindu girls in India too are facing such threats from muslims .This is what they call “love” jehad!!!!which is adopted to convert hindu gilrs in the name of Love!!Hindu girls are not safe in their own country !!!

    Recommend

  • Mar 17, 2012 - 10:08PM

    To little,too late.I’m normally not given to hysteria and emotional out burst,I am firmly convinced any society which does not protect its most weak,venerable and helpless minority,ultimately will in due course will turn canibalistic and devour itself when it has done with its minority,it allows it, at its own peril,its a historical also human and natures’s way,check all such civilization of past,most recent was Auranzeb,in 17th century,and in 20th century Natzi Germany,and the present mahem in Pakistan is that cause.It is off little solace to those unfortunat like Rinniki Kumari and Dr Lata,they are beyond redeemation,they have lost all that was good and cherishable.Little to console themself ,at last ,some consience of some people,some where has arisen.It does them no good.Why,a great people who are proud followers of Islam,would allow this inhumanity to befall on these unfortunate people for so petty a gain,and in the bargain lose its soul,is beyond my comperhension.It was rightly said’what does it gain a man all the riches of the world,but at the end one loses its soul’.Pakistan is in danger of that happening,may be it has already,in any case,the damage is long done.Any way,T.E. and good folks have done what they could,under the surrounding condition,that is the minimum they could.Good day.

    Recommend

  • IndiKid
    Mar 17, 2012 - 10:52PM

    Can someone please follow up in detail – how are they being kept in madrassas, where are their parents, is this happening to christian girls too or only to hindu girls?

    Recommend

  • G. Din
    Mar 18, 2012 - 12:05AM

    There may still be some hope for Pakistan!

    Recommend

  • Babloo
    Mar 18, 2012 - 1:40AM

    Excellent and thoughtful. My only fear is that its too, too late.

    Recommend

  • American Desi
    Mar 18, 2012 - 6:22AM

    @Perplexed: Yes, there is an allegation of ‘love jihad’ on some Muslim communities in India but it’s NOT forced conversion as there is no physical force is involved.

    Recommend

  • vasan
    Mar 18, 2012 - 6:58AM

    “It is shameful that we cannot keep our minority communities safe. ”
    This is not the way it is felt by the majority of Pakistan. When religion, especially hate and violent part of it, has pervaded the society in all they study, in all they eat, in all they see and in all they listen, How do u expect the society to protect the minority,. It is considered as a proud task, to lead u to the heaven, if u convert or prosecute a minority. But this has gone strategic now, They are targeting the young girls so that future off springs could be “muslims” and there will be less woman to give birth to hindu children. What a despicable mindset.

    Recommend

  • Parvez Amin
    Mar 18, 2012 - 7:06AM

    Nothing is too little or too late if you want to do it. If what you want to do is the right thing to do, then make your moves and in due course you will make a difference. It is not easy to swim in a sea of wrongs, but remember that right is unsinkable. It may take time for the right to win, but it will.

    Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Mar 18, 2012 - 8:21AM

    It is too late for this girl. Even the justice system does not work. This girl has been kept in a islamic institution where she may be brainwashed or issued threats, such as, if she does not cooperate she and / or family will be killed. Any fair justice system would have given her custody to a non-religious institution or a Christian Missionary or even a minorities commission, not to an Islamic Institution. In the end she will give a statement in the court saying that she converted out of free-will, just to save herself and / or her family and everyone will claim justice has been delivered !!!!!!! What justice can you expect form a system where Mumta Quadri is a hero. Some Pakistanis, say 25% at the most may be fair minded but they are helpless. However, their own conscious would keep bothering everyone. The fair minded for their helplessness and the unjust ones for their shameful act.

    Recommend

  • sameer
    Mar 18, 2012 - 8:34AM

    Didn’t Faryal revert to Muslim out of her own will? If so, where are the defender of freedom of religion.

    Recommend

  • Mr. Righty rightist
    Mar 18, 2012 - 8:53AM

    Brad Sherman writes a letter to Zardari?!!

    What is Manmohan Singh doing? Of course, when Hindus are not safe from forced conversion in a Hindu majority country like India, how can they be safe in Pakistan? When Manmohan Singh doesn’t protect Hindus in India, why would he care about Pakistani Hindus?

    Perhaps, Congress does not care because its heads are Christians and the PM is a Sikh.

    Recommend

  • Feroz
    Mar 18, 2012 - 9:15AM

    Allah is not blind or mute and those misusing his name to commit unbelievable atrocities will face their day or reckoning.

    Recommend

  • Spud
    Mar 18, 2012 - 12:28PM

    @Feroz: I agree that one days these evil people will face their maker but in the meantime these helpless Hindu girls will have to suffer the indignity of consorting with their kidnappers. It is the responsibility of Pakistan the so called the “Land of the Pure” to protect its minorities. Such incidents shame the Nation.

    Recommend

  • harkol
    Mar 18, 2012 - 3:07PM

    In fact, I am of the opinion that it is best for remaining Hindus in Pakistan to either migrate to India or covert to Islam. Pakistan is no state for respecting minority citizens or their rights. What is left of Hindu community (which was close to 20% at independence) is now around 1%. It’ll be a difficult choice for Hindu minorities to make, but they should.

    Their situation is also a reminder to the world, why Muslim separatism is a veiled attempt to convert or cleanse the non-muslim minorities in Kashmir. There is no cause other than ‘islam’ for the demand of J&K to be separated from India. India will resist it till the section of Muslims in Kashmir see the light in living in a state that can separate religion from policy.

    Recommend

  • far
    Mar 18, 2012 - 3:32PM

    In pakistan only elite and dirty politicians can survive ..

    Recommend

  • rashi kumar lohano
    Mar 18, 2012 - 5:32PM

    Interior Sindh’s condition is getting worse day by day. Minorities have faced a lot , many of them moved abroad n others on safe side. Why discrimination is so high, will these extremist will really think by doing this will be regarded so called heaven. Minorities specially Hindus believes that Sindh is their motherland, What if they are not safe in their mother land ??

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Mar 18, 2012 - 5:39PM

    The genie of fundamentalism, fanaticism, jihad and terrorism that Gen Zia unleashed has now fully matured and bearing fruits. He waged an ideological war against secular forces and all the sects of Islam that was never seen in the long history of Indian subcontinent. People demanded change from ZAB and they got Gen Zia. Now some are again looking for a change against elected govt.

    Recommend

  • Babloo
    Mar 18, 2012 - 5:59PM

    Why India keeps quiet ?
    There are few reasons.
    1. Reason no 1 , India thought, since 1947, that if it spoke for Hindus in Pakistan, then Pakistan would see them as Indians, and discriminate more. So it thought keeping quiet may be the better option and Pakistan would correct itself.
    2. Indian politicians have thought that since India is a secular state, if it speaks up for Hindus in Pakistan, then its concerning itself with a particular religion.
    3. A genuine desire to not interfere in the affairs of other country.

    Immediately after independence, apalled at the treatment of Hindus in Pakistan, Nehru initiated the Nehru-Liaqat pact to guarantee safety to minorities in both countries. Of course Indian government respected that pact while Pakistan government had no intention of doing what it signed and Jiogiunder Nath miondal, the Hindu minister in liaqat cabinet resigned and fled to India.
    So what has happened in last 65 years is that Hindus/sikhs, who made 20-22% of the population of W pakistan districts in 1941 census are now 1-2 percentage. If that is not religious cleansing or genocide then genocide has never happened anywhere in the world.

    So Indian government , with its wilful silence, has been a mute spectator. It should have privately and publicly spoken for the minorities of Pkaistan. India has kept quiet even as Pakistan now has blatantly discriminatory laws against the minority communities. I condemn India equally for what has happened to minorities in Paksitan. India’s conduct has been weak and shameful.

    Recommend

  • Mar 18, 2012 - 6:51PM

    @Babloo: It must be very painful for you,I know that.It ,I feel for people suffering every where.Our sub-continent,besides the reason you have listed ,the biggest reason is ignorance,very poor and apathetic attitude of both people and Govt,if they with all powers are doing very little,what can you,me and the Dawn and Tribune Express do?Yes AmericanCongress makes some noice,but they are bogged down in that useless War,and want to pull out,India,they neither have will,nor ability,so just forget about that ,guys like me,you,& many others good people like Mirza,Din,Vasan,Feroz must contnue to write and protest and help move the ball forward,in that alone we help our good cause,and prevent injustice,if good people keep quite,than everything is lost,this talk of heavan,earth,paradise drives me hopeless,as we leave everything to God,and feel we have done our job,God helps those who help themselves,First,put your effort ,grow up and write always sense.There are lot of good soul in that unfortunate,nation.I do not know if that is enough,it does not seem that way.You need ‘Critical Mass”,for Fission.It is elimentary,Babloo,in ligter wane,what is that?You will find the necessary fortitude ,strength and resolve and the guts,and the COURAGE.Good day.Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Mar 18, 2012 - 7:04PM

    @Babloo:
    @Mr. Righty rightist:
    When the Indian Muslim from Bangalore (I think his name was Dr. Hanif but not sure) was held in Australia in connection with the London bombings, Manmohan Singh cried in public. This Indian Muslim was also suspected of having connections with extremist organizations in India. Manmohan Singh acted correctly as he was speaking for an Indian National, but public crying was immature. In Rinkle’s case, Manmohan Singh may take the defense that she is a Pakistani National. But he should still be ashamed that he did not raise it even informally with the authorities in Pakistan, particularly when the Brad Sharman could write a sharply worded letter to Zardari. Afterall, what has happened to Rinkle is much more barbaric and cruel than what happened to the Indian Muslim man in Australia. India has a long way to catch up even with China.

    Recommend

  • Rakib
    Mar 18, 2012 - 7:44PM

    @Babloo:

    “…* If that is not religious cleansing or genocide then genocide has never happened anywhere in the world. So Indian government , with its wilful silence, has been a mute spectator.*…”

    Genocide is a serious charge and there is no way GoI could have pressed it against West Pakistan (as it could in East Pakistan of 1970) and made it stick in the comity of nations. Please recall that in the 1950s Hitler’s excesses were just being made public at Nuremberg and “standards” set by him to define Genocide or Ethnic/Religious Cleansing were rather high! Reduction of population does not by itself prove Genocide and Proselytising per se is not only not a crime against humanity but “carrying the message” is an integral part of Muslim/Christian belief system. World was dominated by the West & no Christian country at that point in time would have listened to any complaints against conversion with sympathy. Human Rights were not yet a major issue. Even when Nehru asked foreign missionaries to stay out of sensitive areas of Nagaland many misconstrued it as anti-Christian conversion move.

    Historically forced conversions are tough to prove if religious laws sanction certain measures to promote proselytism.. Marriage is one such. The favourite method of certain Mughals (esp Aurangzeb) was to ensure conversion without blood but not without tears by imposition of Jiziya on Hindus. He imposed it in 1679 & had openly declared to his sister Jahanara, (who passionately protested about raw deal to Hindus exactly the way the right thinking Muslims of Pakistan are protesting today), that his purpose indeed was to convert the Hindus who were given the choice of waiver by becoming Muslims if they were too poor to pay up. What he did was immoral,improper but not illegal. His great-grandfather Akbar on the other hand had earlier (1564) abolished that tax altogether because he knew he could not guarantee two minimum requirements to justify jiziya tax: protection of Hindus and exemption from military duty for them: and conversions in such a manner was anathema to him.

    Recommend

  • Anjaan
    Mar 18, 2012 - 8:41PM

    The recent American concern for the forced conversion of Hindus in Pakistan, and a small section of the Pakistani media taking up the issue, is a step in the right direction.

    What is surprising however, is the timing …….. why now after 64 years of systematic decimation of the Hindu population in Pakistan in the mosr barbaric way …… ?Recommend

  • Babloo
    Mar 18, 2012 - 9:40PM

    @Rakib, thanks for the thoughtful comments. Very impressive.

    Recommend

  • CP
    Mar 18, 2012 - 9:52PM

    @Babloo…

    YOu trust Indian govt to do that…? I have personally lost the hope when they just turned a blind eye to the genocide of Tamils in Lanka and refused to even make an attempt to stop that…

    Congress is a blot on India…the sooner it is done away the better for all.

    Recommend

  • zia
    Mar 18, 2012 - 11:46PM
  • Babloo
    Mar 18, 2012 - 11:59PM

    @CP,
    India has taken the concept of non-interference in the internal affairs of others countries/neighbours too far. Its now a self-serving shield to hide its ineptness to speak on behalf of the down trodden and do anything meaningful about it. I am not advocating military action or anything close to it, but only asking for diplomatic action to give voice to the injustice in Indian sub-continent. I too believe in non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries but that must be balanced against the need to uphold universal human rights.

    Recommend

  • Mar 19, 2012 - 6:28AM

    Greeks ,were very practical as well very thoughtful people.They would not buy self serving shield to hide ineptness, of even God..For Babloo’s attension. .Some tried to find excuse for God not doing or stopping, bad things happening to very good people.Philosopher Epicorus,debunked God’s ineptness.If God is unable to,or un willing,than He is not omanipotent,if he is willing,but unable to, then He is not omnipresent,if is neither willing,nor able to, then why call Him God?.As I said India is neither able or nor willing,why call India Power,least of all Super Power?But rationality,logic and reason are not our forte’,in our part of the world,Is it not?Just thought,it might interest some.Why things are the way they are.There is a very good reason.Think about it,nice day.

    Recommend

  • vasan
    Mar 19, 2012 - 10:03AM

    Hariharmani : It is not the question of India able or willing to interfere in Pakistani hindu conversions. It is not our business except as a human right violation issue when girls are kidnapped and converted forcefully. American senator writing about this issue to Zardari is a political stunt to pressurize pakistan to do their bidding like the resolution on Balochistan. But India is different. When its citizens are involved, I guess India does take up the issue, Like evacuating its citizens from Libya, the child care issue in Norway etc. Poking into Pakistan’s every issue will be counterproductive in the long run esp with respect to the hindu minority. On the same ground we must resist the Pakistani shouting on issues concerning Indian minorities esp muslims. It is not their business. In short, I would like to keep the religion out of state affairs. Providing unconditional migration is also not a suitable idea,

    Recommend

  • Yogesh
    Mar 19, 2012 - 10:42AM

    Here is the Video proof of court proceedings where she admits she converted on her free will.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=nDXzWFS0qk8

    Recommend

  • Apr 20, 2012 - 4:27PM

    I wonder why NGOs and Human right activist are so much trying hard to get Faryal out of the hands of her husband, Well the NGOs can request to their highest funding trustee “USA” to give an order to Pakistani Govt., and Boom.. The problem will be solved. Like Raymond Davis Case like the NATO Supply case this case will also be solved.
    http://syedowais.blogspot.com/2012/04/faryal-aisha-dr-lata-happy-ending.html

    Recommend

More in Editorial