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Pakistan: Christian girls kidnapped at gunpoint by local Muslims

by Heather Preston

Two Christian teenage girls have been kidnapped at gunpoint in Pakistan.

Cousins Simran and Sheeza were reportedly abducted outside their house in Warburton, in the Punjab province by two local Muslim men who attacked them and forced them into a rickshaw.

According to a statement from Simran's mother, Mumtaz Bibi the assailants pointed guns at the girls and threatened to kill them when nearby neighbours tried to intervene.

Simran's brother, who was present at the time of the kidnapping named the men as Ali Raza and Lali Iqbal.

A case has been registered with local police enforcement, but the girls have yet to be returned home safely.

According to Christian persecution charity Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), the victims' families are fearful for their wellbeing as several days have passed and they don't know whether the girls are still alive. 

There are concerns that the girls may be subjected to forced conversion to Islam and forced marriage, as this has become "an everyday matter" in Pakistan, according to Director CLAAS-UK Nasir Saeed. 

He said: "Parents of young Hindu and Christian girls are fearful of their future in Pakistan.

"In this year alone we have recorded over two dozen cases, and the majority of cases are of Christian girls from Punjab."

Saeed has accused government and law enforcement agencies of turning a blind eye to these issues due to an "Islam-influenced judiciary system" that doesn't protect under 18's. 

"Forced conversion of religious minorities primarily in girls, some younger than 12 years old, seems to have become a norm not only for the Pakistani government but for the community as well," he said.

The Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri has stated that anyone can convert to the Islamic faith regardless of age and there should be no restrictions on converting religion before the age of 18.

Saeed is concerned that paedophiles and rapists are taking advantage of the Islamic faith's inherent good deeds to justify their criminal minds and is calling for the Government to "pay attention" and introduce new legislation to prevent forced conversion and forced marriages.

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