Christian girls forced to convert to Islam


Christian girls Saba Younis, 13, and Anila Younis, 10, were kidnapped by a Muslim and sold to another who forced them to convert to Islam. Saba Younis was also forced to marry against her will. The courts will not remand girls to their father's custody.

Justice Saghir Ahmed, a judge of the Multan bench of Lahore High Court, Pakistan, sent on July 29, 2008 two under-aged Christian girls to a "darul aman" in Multan, Punjab, for their safety. Darul aman is the name of the institutions set up by government for the shelter of women needing temporary sanctuary or protection.

According to Aftab Alexander Mughal, of Minorities Concern of Pakistan, Saba Younis, 13 years old, and Anila, 10 years old, sisters and Christians, were kidnapped on June 26 by a Muslim man Muhammad Arif Bajwa and then forcibly converted to Islam. When the matter came before the court, Main Naeem Sardar, District and Sessions Judge Muzaffargarh, on July 12, ordered that the girls are not to be remanded to their Christian parents because the girls are Muslim now.

The father of the girls, Younis Masih, filed an appeal to the high court where a Muslim lawyer Rashid Rehman pleaded his case. The court did not
believe that the girls accepted Islam by their own free will; therefore the girls were sent to a 'darul aman' in order to be relieved of pressure on the part of Muslims. The girls will again appear in court on Aug. 4 and then the case will be decided according to the girls' statement.

"At least now the girls would be out of some pressure from those Muslims with whom they forcedly lived for 34 days," said Rashid Rehman, a Muslim lawyer who appeared before the court on Masih's behalf, as told to Minorities Concern of Pakistan.

The girls were kidnapped by Muslim fruit vendor Muhammad Arif Bajwa in Chowk Munda, a small town in South Punjab. They had come from Chak No. 552, a Muslim-dominated village, to Chowk Munda to visit their uncle. Bajwa kidnapped the girls at gun point and told them to remain silent or they would be killed. The girls were then sold to another Muslim man Falak Sher Gill , a well-known criminal.

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