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Forced faith or force of faith?

Published Apr 20, 2012 07:00pm


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Three females from Hindu families appeared before Pakistan’s Supreme Court this week in a case involving their alleged abduction and forced conversion to Islam. When the young women were asked in private proceedings whether they had been abducted or forcibly converted, the women replied in the negative, requesting to return to their husbands, rather than their families who brought the case before the court.

The judgment by the Court to allow the women to leave with their husbands was based on the evidence presented before the judges, and was rightfully decided with the current law on the books. While there is a constitutional right to freedom of religion in Pakistan, there are several contradictory laws that target minorities and there is an absence of laws protecting them from discrimination. Therefore, while we may never know if the women in this case were forcibly converted, the controversy requires one to assess the lack of legal and social protections afforded to Pakistan’s religious minorities.

While many have critiqued the Supreme Court for seemingly allowing the victims in this case to be returned to their captors, the judges are limited, as there are few laws on the record protecting religious minorities. Unlike its regional neighbors, India and Sri Lanka, there are no laws in operation protecting minorities from forced religious conversion in Pakistan. However, there is a delicate balance that nations must strike between protecting minorities from forced conversion and respecting a citizen’s religious right to change faiths.

Marc Galatner writes that “state inquiries into the imponderables of personal identity” such as determining whether an individual has voluntarily converted faiths, is impossible to accomplish with “administrative and judicial procedures ill-suited to the task.”  While it is difficult to determine the voluntariness of conversion, one must understand the environment in which the decision is made.  As such, Indian provincial legislation deals with all sorts of “coercion” to conversion.

In 2003, the Tamil Nadu province passed the Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Ordinance, which prohibited conversion through allurement, force, or fraudulent conduct.  There was a higher criminal penalty assigned for those attempting to convert minors, women, and members of the Scheduled classes, because those individuals have historically been most vulnerable to forced conversion. Further, all conversions must be reported to a magistrate judge in the province, who examines the evidence and can deem a conversion forced and illegal.

Many critics argue that this gives too much power to magistrate judges, who stand as an ultimate decider of an individual’s faith. This could potentially lead to violations of a voluntary convert’s right to religion and privacy. However, the Indian Supreme Court examined the laws of conversion through their Stanislaus case, where the Court distinguished between a right to “transmit” ones religion and the right to “convert” individuals. The Court explained, “if a person purposely undertakes the conversion of another person to his religion, as distinguished from his effort to transmit or spread the tenets of his religion, that would impinge on the ‘freedom of conscience’ guaranteed to all the citizens of the country alike.”

Therefore, the Court in India has allowed individuals to spread the tenants and lessons of their religion, but not to forcibly or fraudulently convert individuals. However, many critics question the validity of the Court’s decision, especially when the central tenant of some faiths is to spread their religion. Asma Jahangir authored a report on “the elimination of religious intolerance” for the United Nations, and wrote, “[m]issionary activity cannot be considered a violation of the freedom of religion and belief of others if all involved parties are adults able to reason on their own.”

This issue became significant for Sri Lanka in 2005, when the government passed a national bill prohibiting unethical conversions, in order to “ward off threats to Buddhism.” While 70 per cent of the population in Sri Lanka is Buddhist, there is a minority Christian population that has long been targeted by authorities for its missionary / conversion activities. For critics, this law was a legalised oppression of the Christian minority’s right to proselytise, which is essential to their faith, in order to serve a chauvinistic principle of “protecting the majority.”

This is why the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka rejected the legislation, ruling it an unconstitutional violation of the religious freedoms. This example is an extreme on the spectrum of religious conversion laws as the majority utilised the legislative process to discriminate against a minority. Pakistan has similar laws that discriminate against Ahmedis, for example, that have not been ruled unconstitutional by its Supreme Court. However, it is the lack of legislation protecting minorities which has created a social vacuum worthy of examination.

When the decision by the Pakistani Supreme Court was released, a commentator on twitter noted that Rinkle Kumari, one of the three females in the case, was showing signs of Stockholm Syndrome. Neither the commentator nor I have the credentials to administer a psychological diagnosis to Ms. Kumari, now known as Faryal Bibi. However, let us think of the hundreds of other cases that have existed throughout Pakistan’s history where Hindus, Sikhs, or Christians were converted against their will.

Stockholm Syndrome has been described as a condition where an individual is abducted or kidnapped, and begins to empathise with their captor to the point that they defend their actions. In evolutionary psychology, theories have been developed that explain the evolutionary benefit of the Syndrome. When humans lived in hunter gatherer societies, clans of men would continually fight one another, and women would be taken as “victory prizes.”  The women who protested their capture were regularly killed, while the ones who adjusted to life with their brutal captors survived.

Therefore, one should examine the case of religious minorities in Pakistan from this brutal, archaic, and outdated perspective. Potential converts are born into a society that subjects them to massive social and institutional discrimination, for public services and employment. Non-Muslims have been subject to murder, rape, or beatings merely for simply being born to a different religion in a nation where the right to spread Islam is more protected than the right of minorities to live in peace. In this environment, when a woman, child, or minority is converted to Islam, they could likely develop Stockholm Syndrome and embrace their new faith as an instinct to survive in a brutal society.

This raises a question that should be asked to the ‘gairatmand.’ Is the benefit of forcibly converting one individual to Islam worth jeopardising the validity of all the converts to their faith? Many say that the justice system is flawed if it mistakenly punishes one man, even when it rightfully punishes thousands. In that light, does the forced conversion of one soul not call into question the thousands of others that may have converted voluntarily?

There should be no societal benefit for belonging to the majority religion, just as there should be no detriment for being a minority. Therefore, one hopes that Parliament can address the societal discrimination at the heart of this issue by passing appropriate legislation. This legislation could thereafter be utilised and enforced through the Court. The Pakistani Constitution recognises the right to religion as fundamental, and despite contradictory laws that discriminate against minorities, a legislation is required to fairly deal with forcible conversions.

The writer holds a Juris Doctorate in the US and is a researcher on comparative law and international law issues.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group


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Comments (113) Closed

ProudHindu Apr 22, 2012 02:38pm
You are spot on.
sagecaptial Apr 27, 2012 02:47am
We do make mistakes but that does not justify yours. 2 wrongs do not make a right
Mundu Apr 22, 2012 07:15pm
yeah, as usual, where is the actionable, incontrovertible proof that can stand the scrutiny of Pakistani courts. After all they have a rule of law.
AHA Apr 22, 2012 07:17pm
@k - Excellent point. I agree.
Aman Apr 22, 2012 08:45pm
so Mr. Adil - you will have no objection to a muslim girl choosing a hindu as her lover/lifenpartner and converting to hinduism?
Santosh Apr 22, 2012 09:16pm
I am very sad for all my hindu brothers and sisters who are living in pakistan. I am requesting you all to please come to india hare you can live respect.
Aman Apr 22, 2012 08:47pm
Dear Pakistani brothers - kill or convert everyone else who is no muslim and the day is not far (actually its already started) when you will start killing each other.
Nasirzahid Apr 22, 2012 08:48pm
The author of the article called Pakistani society brutal in islamic perspective. Obviously he is prejudiced towards Islam. In fact there is no room in Islam for forcible conversion because such a convert does not understand the spirit of Islam. Conversions do take place for reasons like love,money.and other reasons .I consider the remarks expressed in the article totally unfortunate.
M Apr 22, 2012 07:19pm
That is your reality my friend. Do not impose it on others.
masood Apr 22, 2012 07:21pm
absoloutly agree with you well said
khurram Apr 22, 2012 07:04pm
Well you are abso;utely right about the indian heriatge of Pakistanis. And that proves the point that people convert to islam by there own will.
khurram Apr 22, 2012 07:00pm
You are right about immigration but more people are converting into islam . As a matter of fact in US about 1/3rd of Muslims are converts
bauke Apr 23, 2012 02:16pm
What about the possibility of a christian/hindu etc. woman/man living together and married with a muslim woman/man? What is wrong with that?
Another human Apr 22, 2012 11:01pm
Very well said gaurav
Roshan Sridhar Apr 22, 2012 11:08pm
Another human Apr 22, 2012 10:56pm
Mr Zain to give you the proof that you asked for let's install CCTV cameras at those "designated places" where these forced conversions ans rapes happen .. Common be practical in what you ask for..
Another human Apr 22, 2012 10:34pm
how free minded are you and your religion when some one leaves Islam ? Heights of hypocrisy
Annd Raj Anand Apr 22, 2012 10:30pm
Why isn't the Supreme Court noticing that it is a simple case of Rape which should be punished with stoning those responsible to death as per Islamic law.
Annd Raj Anand Apr 22, 2012 10:25pm
Just remove the restrictions on conversion out of Islam and then see. Christian missionaries can convert the whole of Pakistan in 100 years if given a free hand.
Parimal Rajput Apr 22, 2012 10:19pm
Seeing attitudes like yourself - I thank my forefathers for resisting the temptation to convert to the religion of the invaders (and rulers at some point of time). Because that is why I dont view everything through the lenses of religion and have a wide unbiased view of the world.
NORI Apr 22, 2012 10:04pm
You hit the nail on the head. I watched the video of Rinkle Kumari alias Faryal Bibi talking to some media along with her husband. Any impartial person could sense that she had no joy or happiness that a girl generally have when she gets the person she wants as her husband. She was seen reciting some dialogues or giving incoherent answers. Just watch and comment...
NORI Apr 22, 2012 09:59pm
Ok. Let's take these girls loved them. Obviously, their husbands must have loved them as well, that's why it culminated in a marriage, forced or out of the girls' free will. When their husbands had NO problem in loving HINDU girls, what's the problem to marry them as Hindus and giving them a right to spend rest of their lives as Hindus ? Why should the girls convert ? Why can't their husbands convert ? These questions, if answered correctly and honestly, will bring out the actual facts.
Narayan Apr 22, 2012 09:51pm
A brave article but the comments tell the true story. The overall absence of pakistanis and the presence of ones like Adil only serve to reinforce the unspoken truth - Pakistan is what it is not only because of the army or the politicians or the usual bug bears US, Israel, India etc, it owes its current medieval, degenerate, pathetic state owing to the average pakistani. Its ultimately the people that make a country and society and Pakistan's society only reflects what it is made of.
masood Apr 22, 2012 07:27pm
yes khurram they were free to convert with a sword above their head
A.Bajwa Apr 22, 2012 07:27pm
If a modest version of Islam is projected by our priest there will be more conversions. Extreme versions should be banned because these are later day contraptions.
Seetharam Apr 22, 2012 10:10pm
I think your assumptio that all these conversions were voluntary. Have you heard of the Jesia tax on non-Muslims in India during Muslim rule. What options did non-Muslims have to avoid such a stupid tax except converting themselves to Muslims. You think that was voluntary? The Muslims with the name "Bhat" are the poor Brahmin sect of Hindus who probably got converted to Islam to avoid this tax. How do you know that there was no force used for centuries during Muslim rule in India? You cannot rule out this possibility.
R.Kannan Apr 22, 2012 06:36pm
Waris forgets that the constitution of India upholds freedom of religion as one of most important fundamental rights of the citizen. Pakistan's formation was predicated on having a nation for muslims. History has always shown that when such sectarian considerations are important for the birth of the nation, the minorities suffer. Sri Lanka has a long standing problem arising out of denial of basic rights to Tamils. India has problems in many states arising out of the linguistic reorganisation of states.
Human Apr 22, 2012 06:40pm
I want to ask a question to all pakistanis, by converting forcefully scared for their life minors girls to Islam do you think these mullas are making Islam richer and more famous in the world? Answer is no, nobody is giving bad name to Islam more then you guys.
S.Murthy Apr 22, 2012 06:51pm
I don't understand why any country should be obsessed with religion. It is not religion but education that will help people understand the society and the world better. Unless and until religion is strictly kept private, involving the individual and the establishment, no country will ever progress. Some months back I had the privilege of translating into Tamil an impressive appeal to the public by the Malaysian PM. The appeal exhorted its citizens what the nation expected of them and the need to keep their focus only on their nation's progress. It talked of equality of rights and duties of every citizen and the need to keep harmony among various ethnic communites living in the country. Unfortunately, the focus of Pakistanis, both its rulers and the public, seems to be on worthless things.
NYC Apr 22, 2012 06:10pm
Awesome! The best comment I have read in many years
daddymac Apr 22, 2012 07:33pm
What I would like to say is that there is a double standard by Muslims. In Australia we have freedom of speech and can follow our religion of choice. However Islamic groups want to alter the rules and regulations of Australia. They want want women to be covered in public swimming pools, they want certified halal fast food places. But in Islamic countries like Pakistan where they claim to respect a Australian born Pakistani christian I am not allowed to sit in downtown Karachi and sip on some Alcohol, or have a pork roll or go an visit my church in peace. What I believe is that religion and politics should be separate, religion is a private matter between a person and his god. Everyone is equal in this world.
K Apr 22, 2012 06:01pm
With that reply, you prove the exact point Ashish was trying to make !!!
Saud Apr 22, 2012 07:34pm
I dont want to argue for the sake of argument. -Herself admitted that she converted by her free will -15 days away from both parties -Statement in Supreme Court after 15 days if not this than what will satisfy you, I dont know. And would you like to elaborate that how you are so confident that you are right?
Abdur R. TAlukder Apr 25, 2012 08:50am
Mr. Sinha, I think you are intentionally tried to get involve into the unwanted religion issues. If it is your own prediction and calculation, I like to request you to ask Dr. Zakir Nayek or simply watch the PEACE TV. I have every confidence that you will get true result of your self statistics.
kumar Apr 23, 2012 02:35am
How would you like it, if the situation was reversed? That is, if a muslim girl is abducted by a hindu family and made to marry a hindu boy. How would the supreme court rule and will the pakistani muslim society accept it?
adhyatm108 Apr 23, 2012 04:47pm
i think that all hindus must come to india bcoz only india is for hindus otherwise one day all they would be converted
Exmozz Apr 22, 2012 05:21pm
if you look in Pakistan, there has been no case where anyone has converted from Islam to anything else, as that would be tantamount to apostasy which is punishable by death. Its quite an asymmetric system...conversions to Islam are celebrated and have legal support, whereas the opposite attracts capital punishment.
Asif Apr 23, 2012 01:51am
and in India there is rule of law, no injustices are being done. The whole society is content with the law and order. Get real.
Asif Apr 23, 2012 01:53am
ofcourse as a hindu you would not like adil's point of view, but as a muslim I totally support his. So where does that leave us?
Pankaj Patel (USA) Apr 27, 2012 09:35pm
Thank you Waris. Thank you Dawn for nice and thought provoking article, but is there any one who is worth listening? Every one in Pakistan will be up in arms if any one supposedly insults Islam any where in the world, including Imran khan.Where is he? Does he consider this as an honor to Islam ? Is there any one in Pakistan senate to have courage to at least speak about it? Who are you afraid of ? How can you expect minorities to protect themselves ? I will advise any remaining Hindu to migrate to India because things will be worst in coming years.
Abdur R. TAlukder Apr 25, 2012 09:27am
Thank you Mr. Waris Husain for your article"Forced faith or force of faith"? Although you tried to depict the true picture of the minorities socio-religious condition in Pakistan but the ultimate results and opinion from the readers are directing to the opposite way. Instead of showing the right path to tackle this controversial issue prevailing in Pakistan, lot of the readers are now even not hesitating to put the blame on Islam. As you know like others, Islam teaches the whole mankind to live together with different minorities and even it says that it is the Islamic govt. sole responsibility to protect the minorities rights. Failure to do so it is the only a Muslim govt. can be criticized not the Islam. If it is true, why we are accusing and bringing all the false allegations against Islam rather put blame on the culprits and the negligence of the govt.!
Naeem Apr 23, 2012 04:33am
Adil, may Allah show you the light as well and that you follow the Quranic teachings of Allah where Allah has clearly proclaimed, " There is no compulssion in Religon". May you be guided by Allah's words and not of the infidel uneducated Mullahs.
Ravi Apr 22, 2012 08:03pm
Like they said before 2011 - Any proof that Osama is hiding in Pakistan, Sir? And they still say - Any proof that Pakistan has terrorists hiding in it's territory, Sir? Dear Zain, the Dawn report a few days back clearly talked about 100s of gun toting supporters of the "husband" surrounding the girl and shouting slogans. What do you think a young girl would feel seeing such muscle power wanting her to testify what they wanted? And if they could do this in the court, imagine what they could do when the girl was alone or her parents were alone?
Jay Apr 23, 2012 02:43am
Finally a sensible comment
A O Apr 23, 2012 05:40am
Forget minorities even Muslims are forced to adhere to this wrong and coercive way.
Praveen Mathur Apr 23, 2012 05:06am
Convert or DIE was their choice. If they converted by choice, then why did parent go to court?
sagecaptial Apr 23, 2012 06:50am
"And that process will require a lot of courage, introspection and apologies." Wow the bitter truth
AK Apr 23, 2012 06:45am
Zain, will you allow a muslim girl to be converted to other religion in same way? Remeber that three hindus were killed recently in Sindh just for having friendship with a muslim girl.
Harpreet Grewal Apr 23, 2012 06:36am
Well said Ashish, todays muslim population of the India , Pakistan and Bangladesh are the descendants of people forcibly converted for the last over one thousand years !
KayT Apr 26, 2012 06:23am
Lack of investigation from that angle is the point of this article. Sir!
aditya Apr 26, 2012 05:47pm
well, Pakistan was borne out of religious thoughts. it's very identity lies in religousity. there isn't any other country in this world - except Israel,Bangladesh and now Sudan - which was carved out based on religion.
puri - Ludhiana Apr 23, 2012 08:46am
It will be interesting if a Muslim will be given a similar treatment if he wants to change his/her faith in Pakistan by the general people, administration and the judiciary.
Saleem Tahir Apr 21, 2012 02:36pm
Islam teaches " La Ikra-ha Fid deen Forcing a non muslim to convert to Islam is un islamic
Abu Bakar Apr 21, 2012 03:58pm
Why is it that our secular - liberal intellectuals are having such a hard time accepting the fact that they converted by thier own will ... We know they personally dont like people coverting to Islam, but lets just face the reality and let it go now
Anthony Heirtz Apr 21, 2012 04:07pm
Does Islam allow Muslims to leave Islam without being punished? The hadiths are full of incidents when apostates were stoned or otherwise killed for leaving Islam.
Ibraheem Apr 21, 2012 04:12pm
Its not Stockholm Syndrome, its SECULAR SCHIZOPHRENIA that we need to worry about !
A Pakistani Apr 21, 2012 04:13pm
The problem with the Supreme Courts ruling is that it is not a ruling at all. We already know that adults have a right to make their own decisions, no one was asking for clarification on that. Why did the court not hear the girls in court in front of everyone? Why send them to as you say a "private proceeding" to record their wishes? Even otherwise, why did the Supreme Court not even take a cursory look at the claims of abduction, etc? This is a cop out of huge proportions by the highest court in the country. If they don't have the guts to stand up to the Mullahs then what hope do we have that anyone else will? We are doomed as a country.
dhiraj garg Apr 21, 2012 04:17pm
Why do the so-called educated behave like "Lakir ke fakir"? Nobody will deny that forced conversion is not recommended in Islam but how to define "forced"? What if nobody says it is forced but everybody know that it is "forced"? Forcing somebody psychologically and/or circumstantially is not "forced"? Why is your definition of forced limited to physical and visible forcing only?
Amir Saeed Apr 21, 2012 04:22pm
The Supreme Court's decision was quite justified under the circumstances. If an adult individual says in the Court that she changed her religion voluntarily, without any coversion, the Court has to take her at her word. However, the problem at the heart of the matter is that social issues, such as the issue of soical discrimination which can take many subtle forms hard to be discerned, are not always amenable to legality. You cannot legislate out social attitudes. In the instant case, the facts that the converts are women (who are a week element of the society irrespective of their religion), from Sindh (which has arguably the most retrogessive social set up) and in present atmosphere of general religious intolerance, it is extremely difficult to judge just how much a subtle (yet powerful) coercion may have played a role in brining about the conversion. In brief, an individual from a minority community may decided to change his religion, apparently of his own free will: but there might be other considerations at play at the subconscious level about escaping social discrimination and improving one's position in life. There is no way you can decide just to what extent his decision was out of free will or the result of coercion. It is quite like the women who burnt to death on the funeral pyres of their husbands in ancient India. To all appearances they made the decision freely, but can anyone deny the all pervasive social pressure which induced them to make that decision?
manish Apr 21, 2012 05:16pm
well who cares, until you are winning converts. afterall, conversion is, as the writer asserted, a basic tenet of your faith. so conversion is halaal, but forced is haraam. halal and haram cancel each other, and maybe you may not reach heaven for your act, but nonetheless your life on earth becomes nothing short of heavenly, the respect that you get after such an act is envied by others, and they also dream of replicating your success. no doubt, islam is such a confused ideology, and a collection of most no. of paradoxes in a single book.
Saud Apr 21, 2012 05:56pm
And why you insisted that they were forced when there is no evidence of that and converts openly explained a number of times that they converted by there own free will. Why is it so hard to accept this for you people. And in return do you have any bit of evidence for your argument???
Naveed Lotia Apr 21, 2012 06:04pm
Excellent analysis and recommendations. I hope some legislators pick up these ideas and introduce new legislation that helps to level the playing field for all the religious minorities in Pakistan
Mustafa Razavi Apr 21, 2012 06:15pm
Hadiths don't narrate incidents. For instance, when the holy prophet says, Muslims are like one body, if your nail is hurting, your whole body stays awake; is not a narration of any particular incident.
Pats Apr 21, 2012 06:28pm
Why the court did not allow the three girls to even meet their parents? Why the hearing is not in open court? Where is the jury?
Agha Ata Apr 21, 2012 06:32pm
During the last thousand years or more, when enlightened people like Mr. Waris Khan were not there, how many non Muslims in so many countries converted due to Stockholm Syndrome, or would you say it never happened before?
Kamath Apr 21, 2012 07:00pm
Dear Anthony: If you read the history of Abrahamic religions, you will notice that apostates were severely punished, driven out of land or killed in Christendom and in jewish society. It has changed/ disapperaed due to reformist and criticism from intellectuals and critical society in the Enlightenment era of Europe. . But unfortunately in Islamic world it exists unfortunately even today.
syed khalique ahmed Apr 21, 2012 07:41pm
I don't know about the laws in Pakistan to protect minorities from forced conversion. But the laws referred to by the author pertaining to preventing forced conversion in Inda are in fact being used to suppress the rights pertaining to freedom of conscience, partciularly of Muslims and Christians. Not only Tamil Nadu, several others states have passed such laws to ensure that majority Hindus, mostly dalits and tribals, to put hurdle in the way of conversion of Dalits (low caste Hindus) and tribals to Islam and Christianity. Taking approval of the administration for religious conversion is tantamount to interference in the freedom of conscience as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Provincial governments are using these laws to prevent voluntary conversions of Dalits and tribals to Islam and Christianity.
A Pakistani Apr 21, 2012 07:42pm
Do you have any idea what the word SECULAR even means?
Adil Apr 21, 2012 07:42pm
Those extolling the virtues of this conversion, what if this was the other way round!
khurram Apr 21, 2012 07:46pm
PEOPLE! Why secular schizophrenics don`t realize that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world.Not only by population but also by conversion. Are people in US and Europe who are converting to Islam are being forced?
naresh dasari Apr 21, 2012 09:12pm
diversity is the soul for ever nation and culture. if ever person in the earth become same...u would miss all the beauty of other cultures.
Shilpa Apr 21, 2012 09:34pm
This is a sensible piece of journalism..I think Dawn is doing a wonderful job in trying to initiate debates on controversial issues. And it is nice to hear so many voices reflecting views that are not blindly justifying the deeds of their countrymen with whom they share their faith.I sincerely hope that this genre outnumbers the populace with the regressive mindset. Pakistan will be a much better neighbor to live with..
Universal Apr 23, 2012 01:32pm
The forced conversion and killing of minorities in pakistan proves that the 2 nation theory proponents had created a monster, and which is consuming its own childern's who are weak and less in numbers. This was bound to happen. Once the minority Hindu, Sikh and Christians are totally wiped off, then will come the number of Ahmadis, Shias, GB, Balochs, etc. Final fight will happen between sunni barelvis and sunni deobandis. BUT, I have much doubt that pakistan would be in one piece till that time comes. The hatred that was sowed in the minds and hearts of mulsims at the time of creation of pakistan, and which is regularly refreshed by pakistan's "HISTORY" textbooks, is starting to bore fruits now. Its Time to reap what has been sowed since last 70-80 years.
muhammed Apr 21, 2012 11:23pm
Pakistanis must think proudly about their TRUE heritage. As a humanist and lover of the people of Pakistan, I feel we should claim back our original roots. Look at history and realize what our heritage is. The name of Pakistan is an invention of a few power hungry people.
aks Apr 21, 2012 11:29pm
Well written. One can imagine having to live like a pariah and an out-caste in an Islamic society which offers no religious freedom. Conversion forced or otherwise then becomes an easy way out...!
Seetharam Apr 22, 2012 12:01am
Mr. Amir, Your comparison the situation of these Hindu women in Pakistan to the ancient practice of Hindu women ending therr life, after their husband is killed in war is totally absurd. The absurdity of Pakistan is that it wants to be an Islamic State in the anicient land of Sindhus from which the name of the people living there was identified as Hindus. Going by this tradition, all Punjabi and Sindhi Pakistanis should call themselves as Hindu Muslims, because more than 80% of these people are of Sindhu origin and converted to Islam by the Turkish and Arab invaders. Seetharam
Seetharam Apr 22, 2012 12:26am
Dear Sir, Congradulations on your courage to write such a thought provoking article which will incite the Sunni insurgents to act against your life. I hope people like you multiply in Pakistan which may pave the way for the people of Pakistan and India to live like brothers. What many Pakistanis may not know is that more tha 80% of them are of Indian racial stock because their ancestors were converted to Islam the same these three women were forced to get converted to Islam. If you look at who controls the strings of the Islamic religious institutions in Pakistan and India, they are dominated by people of Arabic or Turkish origin where as 90% of the common Muslims are of the ancient Indian racial stock. That is history. Only when the majority of Pakistanis realize this Truth will they be able to see we are the same people that were lead to the insane act of partitioning ancient India. In my opinion two people are responsible for this: One is Mahatma Gandhi, who could have stopped this partition by going on an indefinite fast unto death and the other Mr. Jinnah, who deserted Gandhi and the freedom movement of India and wanted to create a Muslim Pakistan, with the ultimate object Conquering back Hindu India like the Turks and Arabs had done centuries ago. Now that India is strong it is dawning on the Pakistanis that this dream cannot be realised. Having been disenchanted with the USA, the rulers of Pakistan are trying to align with China to see if they can still fulfill their dream. It seems like finally it is dawning on the current military and political leadership that their pipe dream cannot be fulfilled and that they have to live in harmony with India. It would be nice if both countries can eliminate religious animosity and live as a federation with free borders like Canda and USA to serve the people of both countries. I realize this may be an impossible dream but evrything starts with a dream, just like the creation of Pakistan. The absurdity of Pakistan is that it wants to be an Islamic State in the anicient land of Sindhus from which the name of the people living there was identified as Hindus. Going by this tradition, all Punjabi and Sindhi Pakistanis should call themselves as Hindu Muslims, because more than 80% of these people are of Sindhu origin and converted to Islam by the Turkish and Arab invaders. Seetharam
Ajaya K Dutt Apr 22, 2012 02:05am
Does it mean that there is NO FORCED CONVERSION in Pakistan?
Ajaya K Dutt Apr 22, 2012 02:06am
Excellent comparison. These cases are a slightly different. Girls are kidnapped, raped and then converted.
Ajaya K Dutt Apr 22, 2012 02:08am
What is it that blinds the man gross injustice commited.
shaur Apr 22, 2012 02:17am
Writer fails to present what legislation could be done in such case. He presents case of legislation in India but fails to see that the legislation in India was to protect Majority religion from the minority religion. Although that does not invalidate that force-able conversions should punishable. It's very difficult to legislate and then develop mechanism, which will detect and then punish coercion, unless the victim himself claims of being forced. Should we have 27 hour enforced separation and then interview with a magistrate, for all the conversion to regardless to whatever be the religion? What we will do if magistrate decided it's forced but the so-called victim still claims to belong to his new religion? Only thing we can do is, make all humans equal without the race, religion or creed; I believe there are already laws for that, problem is implementation and education. e.g same crowd which was showering the flowers would have gone mad with anger if the guy in the case has decided to become Hindu. This mentality could not be solved by law, No law can change society, we have to change society to make laws work.
vnarayan Apr 22, 2012 03:53am
The 3 women had no choice. this was there only option to have any semblance of normality. I would suggest that the men who kidnapped and raped them should be tried and punished severely. This is a major human tragedy. In India muslims and hindus as well as christians and other religions can marry freely, and there is tolerance of the other religion except where there is ignorance.
Mohammad A Dar Apr 22, 2012 06:02am
All human are created equal, but Law, limit abiding and out law's, out side the limit of truth are never equal, nor out law's have any right, limit to claim being equal to law abiding. Only by hindrance of secularism, self center ism of secularist, self centered out law's.
Zain Apr 22, 2012 06:40am
The writer has mainly ignored are point that converts were under 3 week custody of Supreme court and they were given free atmosphere to think.And after 3 weeks they still wanted to go with their husbands. that totally rejects the claim of "Stockholm Syndrome". Why it is so difficult for the Hindu Community to accept that any Hindu has changed faith. Actually It is Hindu Community, that is forcibly stopping Hindus to convert to the religion they want to.
Zain Apr 22, 2012 06:42am
Any proof of kidnapping, rape and forced conversion from your side Sir??
Pulak Apr 22, 2012 07:21am
It is really strange. If a non-Muslin is converted to Islam, it is justified. But imagine if Muslims convert to other religions; what hell is raised, especially in Islamic countries. Such convoluted standards!
sb Apr 22, 2012 08:20am
This happened in rural Sindh, where there is no protection from the law. The law is what the Waderas and the land owners say. We are kidding ourselves if we believe that the girls had any option to say anything else in court. Even my Pakistani friends know that God forbid, the girls had said that they were forced to convert, and did so in court, their families, their homes, everything would have been destroyed. And they would have been destroyed by the same fanatics that were singing and dancing when Rinkle was forcibly converted. Secondly, when Rinkle was first brought to court and in the Karachi Press Conference, why was she surrounded by guys with guns? What was the purpose of having men with guns intimidate the local magistrate in rural Sindh? It will be hard, very difficult to fool God, but these people don't fear God. They are the Gods of Rural Sindh.
Godaveri Apr 22, 2012 08:46am
Then what is the punishment and why are they not being punished.
Espinoza Apr 22, 2012 09:23am
It is a losing battle buddy. Too late to save Pakistani society now. All minorities should be immediately converted to Islam, atleast when the final destruction comes, there will be no excuse. Nobody will be able to say that God punished this land because of Hindus/Sikhs/Kafirs living there. My advice to liberal, secular and educated people in Pakistan, RUN!! Leave this godforsaken land before they convert you to a ruthless fundamentalists too...
Sham Apr 22, 2012 09:44am
Do a figure on conversions? You will be shocked once you come to know.
Sham Apr 22, 2012 09:51am
You do not need to go far to find the facts. Look at what percentage of population in 1947 was non muslim and what percentage is now. Name me another country where the figures are even close. There is religious freedom in Pakistan or majority of the muslim countries.
Yogesh P. Apr 22, 2012 09:58am
To all those claiming this was not a forced conversion.. The supreme court seems to have practised selective amnesia. It didn't go into the legality of all the events leading up to now: Whether the girls were abducted? Were they married off w/o proper consent in an open free from fear environment? If not, they were raped, why was nobody tried for abduction, false imprisonment and rape? In non-western world, a woman once losing her virginity would find it impossible to be accepted in the society. So these girls were forcibly married, the marriage consummated, and now if the supreme court asks them "decide what you want to do" is a cruel joke. This shows in stark terms what kind of society the Islamic republic has. What kind of due process the courts follow. And then this country and its people have the guts to talk about "due process" to the rest of the world. Yogesh P
ProudHindu Apr 22, 2012 02:46pm
You are spot on. I am sorry. You are sold to Mullah. Now just hope that Mullahs will come to their senses. But then that's like a drawing a line on stone.
Someone Apr 22, 2012 10:36am
Would your opinion be the same if a Muslim Girl was converted after abduction?
gaurav Apr 22, 2012 10:46am
By the way ....there was no forced killing in Gujarat -just mass self burning with a pregnant woman cutting her womb open because she got tired of her the way they all did it in the same time in different places because they wanted to express solidarity with the hindu pilgrims who burnt themselves in sabarmati express....of their own free will ofcourse.....some have been wrongly convicted by lower courts but they will "prove" in the higher courts that they are innocent.....and by default the people who got killed were not "forced". All those who think this was unforced conversion because of the court ruling should be happy with the Indian court rulings too :) For those right minded Indians and pakistanis who see injustice as injustice everywhere , you will see my comments for it is ....blatant sarcasm to argue the point .. excellent article btw Mr Waris
ProudHindu Apr 22, 2012 02:41pm
In Pakistan, there is no law. They will be killed if there is opposition. Even journalists are not spared. They are hopeless.
Sinha Apr 22, 2012 11:08am
Islam is the fastest growing religion only by high birth rates. The net conversion rate in Islam is ZERO. That means that as many people leave Islam as join. Christianity is the religion with the highest net conversion rate. Source:
Mundu Apr 22, 2012 11:34am
This was no Stockholm Syndrome case, It was a sheer case of fait accompali.Meaning: An accomplished fact; an action which is completed before those affected by it are in a position to query or reverse it. These girls have been with their ,husbands, for a few months and have cohabited with them as man and wife. With what face do they go back to their families if they want to? Who will marry them? They have just reconciled themselves to their fate. Calling it a case of stockholm syndrome is trying to justify the entire sorry episode
Razia Apr 22, 2012 12:04pm
You are right. Leave Islam at your own peril. Being stoned would be the least of the worries.
Abdur R. Talukder Apr 22, 2012 02:17pm
Thank you Mr. Saud for your comment. I am totally agree with you and feel that there is a kind of communal sentiment is adding on into the shaky political arena of Pakistan. Why everybody does not stand and speak up and urge the govt. to take a drastic measure against the culprits. Solution is the only medicine rather than open discussion!
ADIL Apr 22, 2012 02:23pm
Ashish reality is reality and some time you or your offspring would also convert to HAQ, no worries, may ALLAH show you the light
Ashish Apr 22, 2012 12:20pm
Don't worry. Within a few generations, there will be no recollection of this event to the family. Rather they themselves might just claim that their forefathers were never converted, but all had in fact once arrived on camels and horses from the pure lands to convert the dirty souls that once lived here. Just like the pious ones from Alexander to Christopher Columbus to Vasco Dama, not to mention Nadir Shah and Babur, and the British, all had arrived for reasons of charity, definitely not because they had heard that there was a land of riches and knowledge, or of spices and gold. Some day the kids will question whether a nation can be born out of converts who start to believe they are so different from their brethren? Who believe their parents converted voluntarily (ask yourselves or your parents or your friends how many of you would be willing) if they did. Or those who believe they came from the deserts to spread the sweet desert culture. Then the real unfolding will begin, regarding what the maraunders have done to their peaceful forefathers. And that process will require a lot of courage, introspection and apologies.
vinit Apr 22, 2012 12:22pm
a good article.......but some questions that i would like to ask is why the court did not verify with the help of police whether they were abducted and forcibly converted. even if it was love is it necessary to for only the wife to convert? why cannot she remain hindu or her previous religion...? why have there been no cases where muslim girls have been converted...? the figures in pakistan from 1947 demonstrate what is going on ?,,pakistan has to get its act together ....or it can remain as it is ..........
tushar Apr 22, 2012 12:34pm
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world- is a myth actually it is exactly opposite. The fake spreading of Islam news is spread for purpose. They say Islam is the religion of peace so all Islamic state are living in peace? answer to that is big NO. Then possible conceptional is that Islam is wrong or shall we say Islamic follower miss under stood their own religion.
Sanjay Apr 22, 2012 01:50pm
I am say the least. If fast increasing numbers is a way to judge the "quality" of a set of belief/religion, then why not extend the same parameters of life like ever increasing crime and corruption. Religious belief is a very very private matter between a practisor and the All-Mighty. Conversion is a just a way to show the superiority of a particular religion over the other. It is in line with winning battle over the another country and show your military might. Conversion is in essence it is a religious/cultural war being waged against the other. The people who practise and support conversion miss the essence of religion and are in a sort of "business of religion". I admire THE DAWN for promoting such quality debates.
Pasha Apr 22, 2012 12:52pm
Majority of MUSLIMS are uneducated in PAKISTAN and and other Muslim countries...Look what are they doing in their countries..killing minorities, and even killing each other in the name of their religion ....What a sham!!!!!. There's no point of increasing the number of MUSLIMS, the point is , can u convert them into sensible HUMAN BEING..?? .Look at the Muslim countries , u'll find the answers..
raika45 Apr 22, 2012 12:53pm
Islam in the US and Europe is not increasing rapidly because of conversions.It is because of the thousands of Muslims immigrants and the children they produce.Not happy with the state of affairs in their Muslim countries they flee looking for greener pastures No offence meant.
ADIL Apr 22, 2012 02:26pm
Nop the reality is that they Loved them, they knew them and this is a free world, choice of life partner should not be taken to heart. be Big hearted Mundu,
MC Apr 23, 2012 08:07am
Thanks Yogesh Puri Very Well said
Singh Apr 22, 2012 01:21pm
Not forced but brain washed. Ones nazi's were the fastest growing too. It didn't make them right though did it. Cancer is also the fastest growing disease as well!
Patriotic pakistani Apr 24, 2012 07:43am
Sridhar May 12, 2012 03:11am
Criticizing the muslim torture does not mean ---Anti-Islam. Thousands of muslim criminals are punished with death , arms or legs amputations ,every day by muslim judges in islamic countries for serious crimes . Does that mean that all the muslim judges are anti-islamic , in muslim countries
Ali May 18, 2012 02:27pm
No, we have not. Rather you should read your religion more carefully. Read "reader's Digest" of 1982 report which says Islam is the fastest religion of the world. Now that is not a Muslim saying it.