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» 08/31/2013
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.

Islamabad ( 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.

 


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See also
10/17/2011 PAKISTAN
Rawalpindi’s St Joseph Hospice, a centre of excellence for Christians and Muslims
by Jibran Khan
02/21/2012 PAKISTAN
Police in Rawalpindi clears Abid Malik of charges in the Bhatti murder case
by Jibran Khan
01/14/2012 PAKISTAN
Faisalabad: inspired by Benedict XVI, Christians and Muslims engage in dialogue for peace
by Shafique Khokhar
10/28/2011 PAKISTAN
Christian farm workers abducted by Muslim landowners for money in Faisalabad
by Faisal Khan
06/11/2011 PAKISTAN
Punjab: acquittal for 70 Muslim extremists on trial for the Gojra massacre
by Jibran Khan

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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