Social insecurity forces Christian couple to convert

Published: November 24, 2011
Email
Fleeing police and the woman’s family, the two find shelter but only as Muslims.

Fleeing police and the woman’s family, the two find shelter but only as Muslims.

LAHORE: 

A Christian couple was reportedly forced to convert to Islam in exchange for protection against the woman’s family, outraged over their elopement and marriage.

The couple, now named Ataur Rehman and Mariam Bibi, has been on the run since October 12 and the woman’s family has contacted the police, accusing the man of having kidnapped the woman and stealing 17.5 grams of gold and Rs41,000 in cash.

In Kamoke, the couple met Ataur Rehman’s employer Muhammad Sarfaraz and told him of their predicament, Ataur Rehman’s relative Allah Rakha told The Express Tribune. “Ataur Rehman told him he wanted to keep his wife with him [at the residence his employer had already provided him]. Sarfaraz demanded that if they want to live there, they will have to convert to Islam.” The couple caved in, given the prospect of a better life and protection from police and Mariam’s family.

‘We were not forced’

But, despite admitting that Sarfaraz had made that demand, Ataur Rehman attempted to dispel the impression that he and his wife were compelled to adopt Islam.

“We converted after consulting our relatives,” he said. “At that time, I saw Sarfaraz as my only hope as he offered me both a place to live and secure employment [in return for changing my religion]. His proposal was sound so we decided to embrace Islam.”

Ataur Rehman said that although earlier they had had no intention of converting from Christianity, they were now satisfied with their decision. However, Sarfaraz categorically denied that he had ‘forced’ the couple to convert and said that he had merely proposed a solution and they accepted it. “Conversion was not a condition because Ataur Rehman was already living with me as an employee.”

Police case

According to Ataur Rehman, the couple had been in love since they were children. Eventually, he sent a marriage proposal to Mariam’s house but her parents refused. The couple then decided to elope, provoking Mariam’s brother to register a police case.

Police confirmed that such an application had been received. An officer at the B Division Police Station in Sheikhupura said that so far, no FIR had been registered. “According to initial investigations, the woman has fled with the man of her own volition. However, the DSP is conducting an inquiry and we will proceed accordingly,” the officer said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2011.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (23)

  • American
    Nov 24, 2011 - 9:48AM

    If a christian or Hindu had done it, it would have resulted in massive riots and innumerable minorities would have been killed. But since they converted to islam it will be hailed as a great act.

    Recommend

  • fasmik
    Nov 24, 2011 - 10:56AM

    Ya very similar to the case in India, where scores of minorities are killed daily to prove hindu dominance only

    Recommend

  • Raj
    Nov 24, 2011 - 10:58AM

    It’s a sensible deal. Time for Hindus and Christians of Pakistan to take cue of this matter. Given the socio-political scenario in their country if getting converted to Islam helps them to survive and have a better life, then so be it. The girl’s family will also think twice now before taking any aggressive action as they now belong to the majority community.

    Recommend

  • muhammad aslam
    Nov 24, 2011 - 11:00AM

    forcing people to convert to islam through blackmailing them by telling them if they wanted a place to live they’ll have to convert is not the way to spread your religion.he could have done so by setting a better example of how to be a better human being but by resorting to blackmailing and attaching conditions to get refuge he gave islam a bad name.there’s no use in forcing or blackmailing people to convert to your beliefs,they just do it out of a desperate need at the moment,they don’t do it out of the hearts.

    Recommend

  • Fikar Kero
    Nov 24, 2011 - 11:12AM

    “Sarfaraz categorically denied that he had ‘forced’ the couple to convert and said that he had merely proposed a solution and they accepted it.”
    How can this be a solution I am pretty sure Mr. Sarfaraz did alot more then proposing a solution. Totally agree with @american.

    Recommend

  • Immortal
    Nov 24, 2011 - 11:16AM

    @Raj: It is not about majority because Islam teaches equality. All humans will share equal rights in Islamic rule. but what is happening lately is that we get so aggresive that we dont look at the scenerio and take everything against Islam and react according to that.

    Recommend

  • Prashant
    Nov 24, 2011 - 11:18AM

    @ Fasmik : from your comment one thing is very clear that you are not Indian and you don’t know anything about India!!!

    Recommend

  • Zalim Singh
    Nov 24, 2011 - 11:18AM

    Shame that a religion holds people in its fold out of coercion, but not love.

    Recommend

  • Ali
    Nov 24, 2011 - 11:41AM

    This is not Quaid’s Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Proud Christian
    Nov 24, 2011 - 11:43AM

    Happens in rural areas where people are illiterate.

    In Urban areas it is different. Some of the Pakistanis i know go out of their way to help me and I have nothing but praise for this country. Pakistani Zindabad.

    Recommend

  • Tamil Arasan
    Nov 24, 2011 - 12:05PM

    @fasmik: “Ya very similar to the case in India, where scores of minorities are killed daily to prove hindu dominance only” – why not you bring the story that scores of minority killed in Moon, Mars and some outer outer world…it’s fact that the discrimination against minority is apparent in Pakistan – or else after 1947 Hindus and Sikhs have been virtually wiped out of Pakistan population but in India the Muslim population have increased considerably…In India a Muslim was our last President, second richest person is a Muslim, Top movie star is a Muslim and many more – so don’t live in denial, protect the rights of minority instead of blaming India. For your information last month Indian court have given death penalty to 36 Hindus for their involvement in Gujarat riot against Muslims…So take action and protect the minorities before pointing fingers on others…

    Recommend

  • Hamid
    Nov 24, 2011 - 12:19PM

    It seems that the employer, Sarfaraz, has done nothing wrong as he did not allow a couple who had not married to stay at his place. The couple, who ran from their house and had nothing, the last thing they wanted to do is to lose their job and living place, hence decided to accept the offer. Seems, from this news, that the couple were not forced and the girl’s brother, who is enraged and angry, decided to file an application to the Police.

    Recommend

  • Rehan Ali
    Nov 24, 2011 - 12:22PM

    The intellect driven direction of the comments are simply beyond an ignorant bigot like me. Because, this report was perceived as an act of two individuals both mature and of sound mind. They, as described and perceived by the commentators, struck a deal and were content with the outcome. However, the digital desktop intellectuals found this to be a social menace and are out to shouting their larynx off against religiosity. Yet, all of them would assert that religion is a personal matter but in case of this very Private act of Sarfraz, Atta ur Rehman and Mariam it is considered public.

    Main karon to personal aur koi kare to public can we please come out of this hypocritical state of being.

    Recommend

  • Hamid
    Nov 24, 2011 - 12:26PM

    @Zalim Singh: The case is with the police, you cannot comment until the court announces its decision. This case may be fully null and void or may be a crime. The judge will tell.

    Recommend

  • yamiji ramiji
    Nov 24, 2011 - 12:42PM

    @fasmik: u are the prime example of a conspiracy theory ridden society’s child. No minority is being killed in India…These facts are falsely forced upon you all just to prove that the damned two nation theory is right! Man!!! you guys don’t have a brain or what!

    Recommend

  • abhi
    Nov 24, 2011 - 12:49PM

    It was a proposal which they cannot reject :)

    Recommend

  • N M Javed
    Nov 24, 2011 - 12:52PM

    @American: If the Muslims had done it India, there would also have roits in reaction.

    Recommend

  • omer bin abdulaziz
    Nov 24, 2011 - 1:07PM

    They are grownups. They made a decision and are happy about it.
    Christianity has no law on apostasy so why are you all worried?

    Recommend

  • Hu Jintao
    Nov 24, 2011 - 2:16PM

    @Prashant:
    We do. As a matter of fact most of us do.
    Stop living in the bollywood fantasied world.

    Gujarat, Kashmir, Nagaland, Assam, Bihar, Orrisa and countless others.
    Mumbai where you dont allow Muslims to own a home
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIU8wO-JWP4

    Recommend

  • Hu Jintao
    Nov 24, 2011 - 2:19PM

    @Prashant:
    1946 Calcutta = hindus killed muslims.

    1992 Mumbai = hindus killed muslims

    2001 Gujrat = hindus killed muslims

    2000 – 2010 Hyderabad = muslim youngsters put in jail on fake charges

    2008 indore = hindus killed muslims

    Recommend

  • Raj
    Nov 24, 2011 - 4:59PM

    @Hu JIntao – The home thing is not exactly the way you know. The restriction is imposed by certain private house owners or builders if they want to sell or rent their properties. Now then again this is only one side of the coin. There are exactly opposite incidents as well. Like when I was looking to rent a home in Hyderabad, some of the owners frankly told that they would like to rent it to a Muslim only as they are not comfortable with anybody else. Now it’s his house, he has the liberty to rent it as per his wishes.

    Recommend

  • tz07
    Nov 24, 2011 - 7:30PM

    this is poor journalism and propaganda. If the person himself is saying that he was not forced, then who is the writer to judge the situation?
    mr. Author, you are just an author and not a judge, so stop judging people. anything can be expected from ET anyway.

    Recommend

  • Cynical
    Dec 14, 2011 - 4:49AM

    Smart move from the employer. An offer the poor employee in distress were not in a position to refuse.

    Recommend

More in Pakistan