12/07/2019, 12.49
PAKISTAN
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Threats to a couple: she is a Muslim and "must not love" a Christian

by Shafique Khokhar

The young couple are married with an interreligious rite and each maintain their own faith.  However, the girl's relatives oppose the marriage and accuse the Christian of kidnapping.  The couple is forced to live in a secret location.  He faced trial and their marriage was declared legal.

 

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - A young Pakistani couple is forced to live in a secret location due to threats received from the girl's Muslim family.  The relatives of "T" [a fictitious name for security reasons, ed.], the bride of 19, oppose their daughter's decision, who freely married a Christian boy, Akash Maish of 20 .

They were married with an inter-religious rite and each maintain their own faith, but the relatives of "T" accuse the Christians of kidnapping.  Speaking to AsiaNews Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (Hrfp), denounces "the biased Islamic clerics who teach hate-based teachings and create religious extremism against other religions".

The two met by chance at an academic course and fell in love.  They decided to marry with an interreligious rite, each maintaining their respective beliefs and praying according to their own religion.  The marriage took place on 28 August and was communicated to families the following day.

 After hearing the news, the parents of "T" filed a complaint for kidnapping;  then helped by religious and police, they raided Akash's house and some friends in search of the couple.  The agents arrested and tortured the boy's mother, his older brother and two uncles.

The mother and older brother remained in jail for months awaiting trial.  In the end, thanks to the legal support of Hrfp, the woman was released on bail on 6 November;  the son a few days before, on October 31.

Meanwhile, the police continued to investigate and look for the couple.  Finally the two were "captured" in Karachi, about 930 km away from Faisalabad (place of origin), and transferred into the district jail on November 18th.  At the end of the month, they appeared before the judge: on that occasion, "T" reiterated that she had consciously married her beloved, had been neither kidnapped nor forced in some way, and that she continues to profess the islam and to pray to the prophet.  Then she added that she was very happy with her husband.

The judges ordered the release because the fact does not exist and the couple's marriage is legal.  At the moment they live hidden because the family of "T" does not accept their daughter's marriage to a Christian man and continues to search for her.  Naveed complains: "Why can only Muslim men marry Christian, Hindu, Sikh and other minority girls?"

According to the activist, "problems arise only in the event that marriages are forced", such as the many cases of abduction and forced conversion of minors to Islam.  "But when both spouses are adults and marriage is consensual - he continues - this must be accepted.  If the Constitution allows mixed marriages, why doesn't the government protect couples and families? ".

Finally, Naveed criticizes the police efforts, "which immediately mobilizes in search of the couple when the girl is Muslim.  Instead the minority youths are still missing and the police and even the courts close the proceedings for fear of radical reprisals".

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