» 08/31/2013 09:25 PAKISTAN Lahore: Christian widow threatened by husband’s Muslim family, Islam or death by Jibran Kahn Her husband , a Muslim , has always fought for religious freedom and said: " My wife and my children should feel free to profess their faith." After his death, the relatives put pressure on the woman and her daughters, married with young Christians. Pro human rights groups rush to defense of the family.
AsiaNews) - " When I got married , the relatives [ of my husband ] have
begun to exert pressure so that I convert [to Islam]. But my husband stood
up for me , saying that ' my wife and my children should feel free to profess
their faith ' . However, after his death his brothers have begun to terrorize
us. They have sworn to kill us if we do not convert to Islam. " This is
the dramatic and desperate appeal of a Christian woman and widow. Her husband was a forward-looking man, a
Muslim but convinced defender of the right to religious freedom. She however is now in danger of being killed
by his family members.
The marriage between Muhammad Sadiq Masih and Martha Bibi
withstood years of pressure and threats from the man's relatives, contrary to a
bond with an " unbeliever". The pair remained united and over time
became parents to three girls and one boy. The daughters were married to men
from Christian families - a fragile and often persecuted minority in Pakistan -
and decided to keep the faith of their mother.
However, after the father's death, the girls began to
receive threats and pressures from his brothers [ Islamists ] to convert. The
eldest daughter Nosheen Afzal , who is married with Kamran Afzal , has suffered
direct and personal threats from family members. An uncle branded them as
"infidels," because they live as Christians even though (the girl )
is the daughter of a Muslim . To escape the retaliation they had to leave their
home the next night - in haste and in secret.
In recent days, her sisters were also targeted by
relatives , with threats and pressures. For this reason the mother Martha Bibi
turned to a pro human rights organization , including the Masihi Foundation,
asking for protection and help. Denouncing the growing "climate of
intolerance," the foundation 's legal team immediately took steps lodging
a complaint with the competent authorities, even asking protection for the
family. Fr. Robin John , a priest of the Archdiocese of Lahore and activist demands
their right to religious freedom and recalls the example provided by the
family's father who, though Muslim , he never wanted to impose his faith on his
children . "This also allowed them to live happily ."
With a population of
over 180 million people (97 per cent Muslim), Pakistan is the sixth most
populous country in the world and the second Muslim nation after Indonesia. Just
under 80 per cent are Sunni Muslim, and 20 per cent are Shia. Hindus are around
1.85 per cent; Christians are 1.6 per cent and Sikhs 0.04 per cent. Violence against ethnic or religious
minorities is commonplace across the country, from the province of Punjab in
the north to Karachi in the southern province of Sindh, where more than 2,200
people were killed in the first eight months of 2012.