» 06/14/2011, 00.00
Pakistan, forced conversions of Hindu girls to Islam. Often unreported out of fear
Hindus “Rights movement" launches a campaign to seek justice and to limit violence and harassment by landlords. The court in Rawalpindi exonerates three Christians of blasphemy, now there are fears of retaliation by Muslim fundamentalists.
Lahore (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Young Hindu girls forced to become Muslim and forced to marry their captors, denounce Pakistani Hindus members of the Rights Movement for "scheduled castes" recently formed in Pakistan. They also call for greater respect for their rights. Hindus belonging to "scheduled castes", ie the protected Hindu minorities, form 6% of the total population of Pakistan, and 10% in the region of Sindh, but are under-represented in both public service and in the elected assemblies. In addition, the movement calls for the creation of a law for the registration of marriages of "scheduled castes" that used the term "Hindu" rather than "scheduled castes" in the column that specifies the religion in the registrar, and that the National Parliament promote a law against religious hatred against them.
The movement brings together various ethnic Hindu groups such as the Kolhi, Bhel, Bagri, Meghwar and Rawar. They have no permanent homes, living in temporary camps at the mercy of local land lords. Since the creation of Pakistan the number of seats in Parliament reserved for minorities has never gone beyond 10. This is why the Movement for Rights calls for granted lands, where they can establish their residence, that they be allowed to celebrate religious festivals and the application of the 6% quota reserved for them in public services. The leaders of the movement point out that the situation is such that the groups are kept in a state prison by landowners, and that instances of forced conversions of Hindu girls are extremely common, and not reported. They ask that measures are taken against those responsible.
The Christian minority suffers for similar reasons. A positive development should, however, be noted: a court in Rawalpindi has acquitted three Christians of blasphemy, even though fears that the three may become the target of an act of violence by Islamic radicals. On June 12 court judge Akhter Sarfraz ordered the release of Hector Haleem, Basharat Masih and Robin Masih because the prosecution was not able to provide evidence supporting the charges presented against them last year by a Muslim, Ghufran Sialvi. The accusation was that they had sent blasphemous messages. The court has opened an investigation to prosecute both the Police Commissioner for failure to provide evidence of the charges for the prosecution. Haleem, 55, runs an Pakistani NGO called "Peace Worldwide”.
Muslim activity: Blasphemy laws negate the dream of a moderate Pakistan
Munawar Ali Shahid reacts to the recent arrest of a Hindu couple in North Western Frontier Province, who were accused of desecrating the Koran.
Naseem Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, free after nine months
The 30-year-old woman, who is mentally disabled, was arrested after person or persons unknown reported her for allegedly desecrating an Islamic image. She is the second person charged with blasphemy to be released in a month.
Young Christian arrested for blasphemy
There are no witnesses or evidence against him. The charge violates the law because it is based on the statement of someone accused of committing the crime together with the boy.
Save Christians and Pakistan from the blasphemy law
The blasphemy law - prison and death sentences for those who offend the Koran or Muhammad - is a tool to eliminate religious minorities. AsiaNews launches an awareness campaign for its repeal. Because of this law, since 2001 at least 50 Christians have been killed, families and entire villages destroyed. In the country Islamic and Christian voices appeal for its cancellation.
The Catholic Church in Pakistan (An overview)
Catholics are less than 1% of a total of over 160 million inhabitants. There are two archdiocese in the country, four dioceses and an apostolic prefecture. A small minority but active and appreciated for efforts in education, helping the poor, health care and emergency interventions.
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
New Vicar of Jerusalem to focus on young people and education, future of peace and hope
Mgr Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo stressed the importance of education to ensure the future of new generations. The Church is a sign of "unity" in a context "marked by divisions" and a bridge in interfaith dialogue. The situation has gone from euphoria for peace to resignation over permanent conflict. He appeals to Western Christians to come as pilgrims to the Holy Land.
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