» 08/04/2012, 00.00
Ramadan in Pakistan: TV broadcasts conversions to Islam, minorities protests
In the month of fasting, a popular show broadcasts the conversion of a 20 year old Hindu. In five minutes he embraces the faith of Mohammed. His former employer: all staged. Protests of Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Ahmadis. The Dawn warns such episodes increase the "marginalization" of minorities.
(AsiaNews) - Pakistan's
religious minorities - including its Christian leaders - have strongly
condemned the decision to broadcast the conversion of a young man from Hinduism
to Islam. The
ceremony was broadcast for Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer for
Muslims, on the private ARY Digital channel
on 25 July. Although
the national media - not just television, but also weekly and daily newspapers
- are not new to the publication of material that is "offensive" to other
faiths, this is the first time in history that a live conversion of a non- Muslim
has been broadcast, what's more, during a popular television show thus rendering
one of the most intimate and sacred aspects of the human person, public.
Alam, director of the Commission for the rights of minorities in Pakistan,
said that after the recent cases of forced conversions of non-Muslim women,
this is "a more direct attack on minorities." Besides,
the program legitimized only Islam as a faith, undermining the others.
20-year old Hindu embraced Islam during a prime time show broadcast during
Ramadan (pictured). Originally
the most populous city in the country, the young man took "only five
minutes" to change his religion, under the expert hand of a
"Maulvi", a Muslim religious leader.
he claims to have converted to the faith of Muhammad of his "own
volition", many remain skeptical and do not believe his claims. Ansar
Burney, Head of the Ansar Burney Welfare
Trust at which Sunil worked for six years, defines the conversion as
many others speak of a fiction artfully assembled by the presenter and the
authors, only to gain a greater audience share.
critics have targeted the show, not only guilty of encouraging Islamic
extremists in carrying out forced conversions, but also of creating a
"hostile environment" around religious minorities, including
Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Ahmadis. A
transmission branded as "intimidating" and many have raised direct
appeals to the government for action against programs that "incite hatred"
among religions. In
a nation where minorities are already treated as "second class
citizens", reads an editorial published by Dawn - the leading English-language Pakistani newspaper - this type
of event "only serves to exacerbate conditions of marginalization".
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A meeting about the practice was organized by the Minority Rights Commission of Pakistan. The courts were accused of being too dependent on their Islamic environment. A Catholic bishop said the feudal mentality and the economy also play a part.
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Muhammad Ikram kidnapped the woman who used to clean his house together with her 13-year-old daughter. He tortured them for months in a bid to force them to convert to Islam. They were released thanks to the intervention of the Lahore court and the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance.
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