Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - A powerful Muslim businessman, with the help of a group of accomplices, kidnapped two Christian sisters, forced them to convert to Islam and marry him. The girl's father reported the kidnapping to the police but the police blocked investigations by reversing the facts: the daughters fled because of their father’s violence. A priest from the diocese of Faisalabad points out that the kidnapping of young women has become "common practice", because the authorities and police are "puppets in the hands of extremists."
The father of two girls, Rehmat Masih is a Christian carpenter from Jhung District, in Faisalabad, Punjab province, an arena of repeated violence against religious minority. Muhammad Waseem - the parent explains to AsiaNews, - is a Muslim businessman in the area, long time leader of a banned extremist group. A few weeks ago he came to my house, along with gunmen, saying he was concerned about my daughters and wanted to marry them. " In case of refusal, the man continues, the Muslim businessman threatened to abduct the two girls.
Masih filed a complaint with the police, but authorities did not want to open an investigation. On May 24 the dramatic epilogue, "My daughters were returning from the market - he says - and a vehicle owned by Muhammad Waseem intercepted them and threw them inside, taking them away." The parent returned to the police to report the kidnapping. In response, officials said that "Waseem is a respected and admired businessman, the accusations against him are" false. "The authorities say the girls would fled because their father is an alcoholic who had "abused" them with "immoral actions."
A neighbour argues the defence of the Christian father, emphasizing his goodness and integrity. "I've known Rehmat for 20 years - Shahid Malik told AsiaNews – he is a decent man. I have never heard words out of place out of his mouth. " On the contrary, Muhammad Waseem is an influential man and we have seen him repeatedly threaten the Masih family. The police, he adds, are reversing the facts because "he can not do anything against Waseem, which is collusion."
The next day, May 25, Muhammad Waseem married by force Saima Masih, in the presence of Mullah Muhammad Qasim Zubair. With the ceremony, according to Islamic laws, the Christian woman was "converted" and has embraced the Muslim faith. Local sources also make clear that the religious leader who officiated the ceremony is linked to outlawed Islamist groups (-e-Sahaba Sipe), protagonists of numerous kidnappings of Hindu or Christian women.
Rehmat Masih is desperate: the police asked him to forget his daughters, leaving him indefenseless. "Instead of serving the Punjab government - says the father - [the police] are the servants of extremist groups."
Fr. John William, a priest of the diocese of Faisalabad, confirms that the kidnapping of young women has become "common practice", because the authorities and police are "puppets in the hands of extremists." In recent days, AsiaNews reported the tragedy of another young girl, again from Punjab, seized by force and forced to marry a Muslim (see AsiaNews, 12/05/2011 Punjab: Christian student nurse forced to convert to marry Muslim man).
Christian and Hindu girls, the priest continues, are forced to marry Muslims and convert to Islam, while police and local authorities "are paid" to settle the bureaucracy to avoid reports. The officials are in the hands of extremists and religious leaders in Friday sermons "speak openly of killing and kidnapping Christian girls." And the government, said Father John, "is complicit."