The minister for national harmony has alleged that about 100 non-Muslims, mostly Hindus girls, were forced to convert to Islam in recent months. The minister, Akram Masih Gill, told The Express Tribune that stronger legislation was required to protect minorities from forced conversions.
Gill stressed that such practice on the part of Muslims was against the injunctions of Islam. Islamic laws prohibited forced conversion, Gill remarked.
“We will seek a religious decree from the Council of Islamic Ideology and a ruling by the federal shariat court on the issue before introducing the required law,” the minister added.
The draft of the proposed law is likely to be tabled before the Parliament after the passage of the national budget in June, this year. About the proposed legislation, Gill recommended the formation of official bodies to authenticate whether or not anyone had converted to Islam or any other religion with his or her free will and not under coercion.
“Learning the basic principals and teaching of Islam should be made obligatory, under the proposed laws for all those non-Muslims who decided to embrace Islam.”
“I am not sure about the exact number of such cases in the absence of accurate data for such incidents, but the figure of such cases is about 100,” he said. Gill added that the minority members of the Parliament have recommended that the federal government introduce legislation to check forced conversion.
The minister cited ‘sexual lust’ as the key reason that made Muslim men force non-Muslim girls to convert. “The Hindu girls were being sexually abused by the young Muslim men who forced them to convert when their sexual offence became an issue in the society,” he explained.
“Those young people accept such girls as their legal wives with the pre-condition that they embrace Islam. The girls were kidnapped by young men and after meeting their sexual desire they were forced to change their religion and convert to Islam,” Gill said.
Meanwhile, the ministry of law is of the view that there is no need for a piece of legislation to check the forced conversion of non-Muslim minorities to Islam, a highly placed source in the ministry of national harmony said.
The law division’s views came under consideration after the national commission for minorities recommended that the federal government introduce laws against the forced conversion.
The commission, with Gill as its chairman, at a recent meeting had asked the government to enact the desired law to protect the minorities against forced conversion.
The source recalled that the law division had opposed the legislation against the forced conversion in 2010 when the federal ministry for minorities referred a draft to it for shaping it as a piece of law.
The law division, while opposing the new legislation, had maintained that provisions already existed in the Pakistan Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code against forced conversion, the source concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2012.
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