Lawyer: Almost Two Girls a Day Are Forced to Convert from Christianity to Islam
A 26-year-old Pakistani Christian wife and mother of three was kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam in the Pattoki district of Punjab on July 24. Fouzia* was kidnapped by Muhammad Nazir, a 55-year-old father of eight and owner of the farm where Fouzia worked as a farmhand. Women who work for wealthy farm owners are always vulnerable, even more so if they are Christians.
Fouzia’s entire family worked at Nazir’s farm. “We never took a salary,” says one of Fouzia’s family members. “We were thankful for the food we received in return for our services on the farm.”
Nazir kidnapped Fouzia and forced her to convert to Islam and marry him, despite the fact that he is already married and has eight children.
Fouzia’s family was assured by Nazir’s brother that she would soon be returned to them, but their hopes were shattered when 48 hours passed and there was no sight of Fouzia. They repeated their request to have Fouzia returned.
“Fouzia has accepted Islam and has married me,” was Nazir’s response. “I will not hand her over to you.”
Fouzia’s family has been threatened with serious consequences if they try to take the issue to the authorities or if they try to contact Fouzia.
“We were very afraid and remained silent for 48 hours. We did not know what to do,” shared another member of Fouzia’s family. “Finally, we went to a non-governmental organization (NGO) and pleaded for support and help. Our lawyer is as desperate as we are, and tells us that cases like these are very common in Pakistan.”
ALIVE is an Open Doors partner that works with the local churches, regardless of denomination, to provide pastoral care and training, literacy, vocational skills, discipleship, Bible literacy, trauma counseling and care ministry to those affected by persecution. A lawyer associated with ALIVE says there is one element that could go in Fouzia’s favor.
“Mohammad Nazir, the abductor, is a married man and the abducted Christian is a married woman with children from a Christian husband. This could save her,” the lawyer says. “But it is hard to say at this point which direction the investigation and proceedings will take. Pakistan’s law is not known to be sympathetic to Christians, so we plead with Christians to be praying for Fouzia and the many other girls in this situation across this country where, on average, almost two girls per day are forced to convert from Christianity to Islam.”
*Name changed for security reasons
Pakistan is ranked #8 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.