Thursday, April 30, 2009

The increasing Talibanisation of Pakistan

14-year-old Christian girl raped and forced to convert to Islam
Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 7:28 (BST)

CLAAS is calling on the Pakistani Government to ban forced conversions after a group of Muslim men raped a 14-year-old Christian girl and forced her to convert to Islam.

The case of schoolgirl Shaj Taj was referred to CLAAS by Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan. Shah Taj told a representative of SLMP that Talat Rizwan, Mikael But and Faisal Butt bundled her into the back of a car while she was on her way to school on December 5, 2008.

They allegedly took her to a hotel where she was raped by Mikael before being forced at gunpoint to add her thumb print and signature to documents declaring her supposed conversion to Islam and marriage to Mikael.

“I tried to make noise but they pointed gun on me and threatened me that they will kill my father in jail and my school-going younger brother if I make the noise,” she told SLMP.

Shah Taj was freed from her abductors by police after being held for around one month and a case was filed against the three men. The perpetrators then allegedly tried to prove their innocence by presenting the forged documents as legitimate certificates of marriage and conversion to Islam. Police have detained two of the attackers, but a third is still on the run.

Shah Taj told SLMP she wants her attackers behind bars: “I want to rejoin my school but I am afraid of the culprits. They had guns. They are very dangerous people. I hate that people who caused me to leave my school, they kidnapped me and raped me that’s why they must go in prison and be punished.”

CLAAS has offered Shah Taj free legal representation after her mother said that the family could not afford to take legal action against the men because of their financial difficulties. Christian political and religious leaders in Lahore have so far failed to come forward to help the family.

CLAAS Coordinator Nasir Saeed made an urgent appeal to the Pakistani Government to pass legislation banning forced conversions.

He commented: “The forced conversion of a non-Muslim minor to Islam is a trend that is spiralling out of control, especially since the recent imposition of Sharia law and the increasing Talibanisation of Pakistan.”

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