Qur’an 2:256 says there is “no compulsion in religion,” but there is plenty of coercion in Islamic law. Sharia is set up in its dealings with non-Muslims to pressure them to convert through marginalization, punishment, humiliation, fear, and danger (cf. Qur’an 9:29). There are also innumerable opportunities for semantic games and rationalizations; above all, those in power could care less where persuasion ends and compulsion begins. Even so, many such conversions come with the forced signing of documents stating the victim converted of his or her own free will, just to keep things looking good on paper, and to have a legal document to use against the victim in the future (“But you signed…”). Or, as in this case, the victims are forced to make formal statements in court under duress.
Pakistan is a major beneficiary of U.S. aid. We have leverage we are not using to fight for the basic human rights of the most vulnerable members of society. “Forcible conversion of Hindu girls on rise in Sindh: HRCP,” from The Hindu, March 11 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
On an average around 20 to 25 Hindu girls are being forcibly converted to Islam every month in the southern Sindh province, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has said.
Urging the authorities to take note of these forced conversions, HRCP officials told reporters on Saturday that culprits were taking advantage of loopholes in the law.
Amarnath Motumel of the HRCP said that within a month 20 forced conversions had taken place.
“Apart from minor school girls, married women with children are not spared either,” he said.
The marriages of captives are abrogated (Qur’an 4:24).
The issue of Hindu girls being forcibly converted has come to the fore after the case of 18-year-old Rinkle Kumari from Sukkur who has converted and taken the Muslim name of Faryal after marrying a Muslim boy.
The family of the girl claim she was kidnapped and forcibly converted even after she appeared in court in Sukkur and claimed she converted out of her own free will.
But Motumel pointed out that not only were affected families warned of dire consequences but whenever a Hindu girl or her family appeared in court hundreds of religious zealots gather to pressurise them or they take to the streets as pressure tactics and to create an atmosphere of fear.
The families of Rinkle Kumari were also present at the conference in which her brother Inder said that had she been allowed to meet with her family members privately and even once she would never have converted.
“Despite the President’s orders for the girl’s rescue we are still waiting for something to be done.”
HRCP official Professor Badar Soomro said there was a need to enact new laws to restore a sense of security among the Hindu community.
He also said if a girl is kidnapped and her family registers a case she should be kept in a Darul Aman at least for a month before she is produced in court to record her statement.
Keywords: religious conversion, Hindu minorities, Pakistan minorities, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan