» 10/21/2014, 00.00
PAKISTAN - ISLAM
Pakistan: Forced to marry and convert to Islam by force, a young Christian girl’s struggle for justice
In August, the 19-year old Maria Bibi was abducted and forced to marry Mohammad Zohaib, a neighbor and classmate. Now the matter is in the hands of a court. Meanwhile, the Church of Pakistan celebrates a day of fasting and prayer for Asia Bibi. Muslim leader: no innocent person should be made a victim "in the name of religion."
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - " I am not married with Mohammad Zohaib, he is telling a lie in court, he
tried to convert me forcefully to Islam and got married with me in mosque
against my will, and this marriage I do not accept", Maria Bibi tells AsiaNews,
repeating the contents of her statement and filed petition against the man for false marriage on October
14 before additional session Judge Furrukh Hameed. It is yet another episode of abuse and harassment of a young Christian
woman in Pakistan while the local Church holds a day of prayer and fasting for Asia Bibi, sentenced to death (even on appeal) for blasphemy.
The 20-year old Mohammad Zohaib, a Muslim native of
Nazimbad, a town near Faisalabad (Punjab), is a classmate and neighbor of 19
year old Christian Maria Bibi; the two knew each other well, so on August 5 last
no suspicions were raised when the young man asked to study together with her.
Mohammad brought Maria to the Jamiya Rizviya mosque, Jhang Bazar, where he
recited the Islamic marriage formula (Nikkah) in the presence of a Muslim
religious leader, forcibly converting her to Islam. After a few days, Maria succeeded
in escaping, sparking the ire of the young man who has tried several times to kidnap
her and threatened the girl's parents to hand her over. However, they have
always staunchly refused and defended their daughter from her tormentor.
On 3 October Mohammad Zohaib filed a complaint against
the girl's parents, the next day they appeared before the judges to testify. At
the young woman's rejection, the young Muslim withdrew the complaint, only to
file it again on October 13. At this point, Maria filed a counter-complaint, in
which she claims to have been forced to marry Mohammad and that she will not convert
The girl's family is frightened and desperate for justice.
"Our daughter is innocent," say the parents, "but since we
belong to a religious minority we are living in terror" . Interviewed by AsiaNews the family's lawyer Hashmat Barkat,
says he hopes for laws "against forced marriages and forced conversions"
in Pakistan, to protect women from the minorities. He assured that he will do everything
in his power to ensure Maria Bibi justice during the trial.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani Church is holding a day of
fasting and prayer for Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy, and pending
the appeal to the Supreme Court, the last step to prevent the killing of an innocent.
The bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi Anthony Rufin said that "we pray for Asia
Bibi, her family, Zafar Bhatti and other people imprisoned because of the blasphemy
laws." Maulana Muhammad Ali Khan Mehfooz, from the Council for Islamic
ideology, recalls that the purpose of the law is to "protect the sanctity
of religion and the Prophet Muhammad." However, he adds, "there
should be no innocent victims in the name of religion" and abuses "should
(Jibran Khan collaborated)
Lahore: fear and angst among relatives of a woman arrested for blasphemy
Shamim Masih has been in custody for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Local sources say she is being punished for refusing to convert to Islam. Her relatives are keeping silent for fear of retaliation. For Islamabad bishop, this is another case of abuse against Christians using the 'black law'.
After Bin Laden’s death, Asia Bibi’s prison security tightened
The president of the Masihi Foundation confirms that security has been tightened around the Catholic mother sentenced to death for blasphemy. Her faith remains strong. She prays and fasts for Pakistan and Pakistani Christians. The “worst type of extremism” is developing in the country.
14/03/2012 PAKISTAN - UNITED NATIONS
Christian woman arrested for blasphemy as petition goes to UN on Asia Bibi's behalf
Fifty activists and intellectuals make an appeal for her release to the government of Pakistan at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Signatories slam poor prison conditions and abuses based on the 'black law'. Meanwhile, another case unfolds in Lahore where a 26-year-old woman is charged for refusing to convert to Islam.
Candles for Asia Bibi for faith shall set her free, says Islamabad bishop
Prayers and special Masses are being said in Pakistan and around the world for the 45-year-old Christian woman, sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. Meanwhile, Arif Masih and his family are safe; he had been arrested on blasphemy charges and later released. Speaking to AsiaNews, he said he was in good conditions and that he did not experience any violence in prison. Another attack is carried out against a Christian in Mardan.
Punjab: Muslims kidnap 14 year old Christian to convert her to Islam
Mehek Masih was taken from her home in broad daylight and under the threat of a gun. Muslim man intends to "purify her" making her "Muslim and my mistress." Archbishop Saldanha cases of this type are "frequent," the law does not protect minorities. One of the many "crosses" that Pakistani Christians have to endure.
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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