Pakistan: CLAAS recovers 14-year-old Christian girl forcibly converted to Islam

A Pakistani Christian girl,14, was forcibly converted into Islam by local police official, Munir Ahmed who is Assistant Sub Inspector of City Police Station Hafiz Abad (Punjab).

He had kept her in his illegal detention for the last six months. On Sunday April 21, 2017 Sumbel’s mother, Elizabeth, approached CLAAS and met Mr. M.A Joseph Francis National Director CLAAS-PK.

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She requested legal assistance for the recovery of her daughter. Elizabeth, her two daughters and four sons live in Mohallah Hasan Town, Hafiz Abad. Her husband passed away in 2013.  There were only two Christian families among the Muslim Community. 

Sumbel was good friends with her next-door neighbour Munir Ahmed’s sister-in-law, Mariam, and they would often visit each other’s house. 

Sumbel’s sister in-law, Shazia wife of Sunny is deaf and dumb the pair would often fight over minor issues. Last December Sumbel and Shazia had a fight and Shazia beat Sumbel in Mariam’s presence. To settle the dispute Marriam invited Sumbel to her house, where she spent the whole day. 

In the evening Elizabeth took Sumbel back, but later that night Munir intruded their house and asked Sumbel to go with him. 

Sumbel was still angry with her family, and although her brothers and mother tried to stopped Munir, he beat them all and forcibly took Sumbel. 

After two or three days Elizabeth submitted an application against Munir Ahmed in the same Police Station, where Munir was working. She tried several times to see her daughter but Munir and his family did not allow her.

She contacted the local parish priest Fr. Mushtaq Payara who telephoned and requested the head of the police station to resolve the matter. 

The Senior officers summoned both families to the police station where produced Sumbel. When the concerned police officials asked Sumbel to join her mother and live with her, she was scared and did not say a word. 

Then Munir Ahmed stated that Sumbel had embraced Islam and her Islamic name was Fatima. He said that she lives with Munir to practice her Islamic religion and did not want to go with her mother again. 

He further stated that Sumbel will stay with him and they will get her married to a Muslim man.   

According to Elizabeth, Munir Ahmed is a corrupt police officer who brings the girls from Dar-Ul-Aman, keep them at his house for some time and then sells them for prostitution. 

The majority of the girls were Christian who he had converted into Islam.

On April 26, 2017 CLAAS lawyer Tahir Bashir filed a Habeas Corpus Petition in Lahore High Court on the behalf of Elizabeth for the recovery of her daughter. 

On the same day the court deputed bailiff for the recovery of Sumbel and ordered for her to be produced on April 27.

After the court orders CLAAS succeeded in recovering Sumbel from Munir Ahmed house.

Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK said forced conversion is an ongoing phenomenon against Christians and other minority girls, but he applauded the court’s decision and said every year CLAAS deals with several similar cases but normally the court sides with the Muslim abductors,  and decides the case in their favour, and sadly, under the guise of Islamic law denies custody of underage girls to their Christian parents. 

He added: “Most of the time girls are threatened for their and their families lives if they return. While according to domestic and international laws underage girls’ statements cannot be accepted.

“Abduction and forced conversion of Christians and other minority girls is now a well-known issue and it continues to rise in Pakistan. CLAAS not only helps several families and girls but has been campaigning for the last several years to stop their ongoing misery. 

“CLAAS has raised this matter at the international level as well as with the Pakistani government on several times, but the government has failed to bring any legislation to stop forced conversion.

“Last year, the Sindh provincial assembly had passed a law criminalising forced conversion. Sadly, the bill was rejected by the late governor, Justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, following protests by various Islamic groups.”

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