Local Pakistani Christians and the family of a Christian youth are facing potential death threats and the terrorization of “dire consequences” following the elopement and marriage of a Christian young man who has converted to Islam and his young Muslim bride.
This state of affairs was revealed to ANS by Elvis Steven, a Christian lawyer and minority rights advocate.
Steven revealed that recently in Baldia Town (located in the western part of Karachi) and Saeedabad (also in Karachi), the homes of local Christians were attacked, women were abused and household item vandalized by Muslim fanatics belonging to the Hazara Tribe, Sunni Ittehad Tehreek and Jamaat-e-Islami, under the garb of “searching for a Christian youth.”
The lawyer added that they attacked because a Christian youth, identified as Zohaib Rahi (20) had recanted his Christianity and converted to Islam to marry a Muslim girl identified as Anum (18) at Baldia on November 20, 2010.
This was confirmed by first-hand information obtained by ANS from Pervaiz Rahi, the father of the young man who said that the couple had eloped to get married.
ANS was apprised through reliable local sources that the Muslim girl came from the Hazara tribe, a Persian-speaking ethnic group who live mainly in central Afghanistan. They are overwhelmingly Shia Muslims and comprise the third largest ethnic group, with 22% of the total population of Afghanistan. Over half a million Hazaras live in neighboring Pakistan.
Elvis Steven said that, although the Christian youth had contracted a court marriage and had become a Muslim, the people of the Hazara tribe “harbored a grudge against the local Christian family in particular and against all Christians of Baldia town generally.”
The father of the converted Zohaib Rahi said that instead of protecting the Christians from Muslim fanatics, Saeedabad Police Officers had launched a case against Zohaib and his family for allegedly abducting Anum.
Steven also blamed the local police for favoring Muslim men who were backed by Muslim radical bodies and added that the police were “reluctant to provide security to Christians.”
He alleged that Saeedabad Police and Rangers Police came forward to take security measures against Muslim radical groups only after police informers told them that radical Islamist militants were planning a massive armed attack against local Christians.
ANS sources confirmed that many Christians have since fled from their homes to save their lives and their houses could be seen to be locked.
St. Luke’s Church and St. Luke’s School administration were also threatened by the above Islamic fundamentalists and therefore St Luke’s School administration decided to keep the school shut for two days and reopened only after Rangers Police and Sindh province’s Saeedabad Police guaranteed their security.
Steven said all the local Christians were still “traumatized” and “most of them have fled from their homes.”
Replying to a question by ANS, Steven said this could have been another large attack on any of the Christian residential areas in Pakistan after the Shanti Nagar and Gojra massacre by militants.
He went on to allege that “countless Christian girls and women have fled to safe places because they were vulnerable to be raped by Muslim men.” He added that this was because the Muslims have threatened that, in case the Christian failed to produce “their girl” they would “abduct and rape Christian girls”
He also asserted that on November 27, 2010, in search of Zohaib and Anum, the Saeedabad Police raided the house of the maternal uncle of Zohaib, arrested four family members, “barbarically thrashed them” and later released them after receiving bribes of Pakistani Rupees 15000/– each (USD $179 approximately).
Elvis Steven appealed to the worldwide Christian community to pray for the local Christians and also urged the government and particularly the Shahbaz Bhatti led Blasphemy Laws Reforms Committee to recommend to immediately nullify the blasphemy laws which he said “were the greatest obstacle to forge the interfaith peace and harmony in Pakistan.”
He went on to say, “Local Christians are still terribly harassed and fearful for their families and lives.”
When approached by ANS, Nasir Sammi, the Police Chief of Saeedabad Inspectorate asserted, “The police is doing all it could to control the law and order situation in the area.”
Inspector Sammi went on to say, “The boy has sent his free-will conversion and marriage certificate to Saeedabad police officials and therefore calm and peace is likely to return to the area.”
The St. Luke High School was threatened to close down but it will resume its activities as Sindh Police and Rangers Police’s heavy contingents have been deployed in the area.