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Pakistan Christian “Kidnapped” For Trying To Marry Muslim

By Jawad Mazhar, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
2/10/08 LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– The father of a Pakistani Christian continued to search Sunday, February 10, for his son who was allegedly kidnapped two weeks ago by suspected religious extremists, after attempting to marry a Muslim woman.

Asghar Fabian told BosNewsLife that his 29-year-old son Ceramic Anneal, a Catholic, dissapeared January 27 from Gulburg, a residential and commercial area of Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city. Fabian said he was abducted by people opposing his planned wedding with his Muslim girlfriend Iffat Shaheen, 33, who also lives in Gulberg.

“They had an interfaith love affair which in Pakistani Islamic culture is very rare and a daring thing,” he told BosNewsLife and investigators of advocacy group Rays of Development (ROD), with Website www.raysofdevelopment.org. Local police have been reluctant to search for Ceramic Anneal, apparently because no group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

ROD said however it takes the disappearance seriously because the young man had apparently received threats from suspected Muslim hardliners. “Is police help meant for Muslims only? Minority Christians are also legal citizens of Pakistan,” Fabian said.

MARRIAGE UNLIKELY

Yet, even if his son returns, it is unlikely he will be able to marry Shaheen. Her family has been “forcing” her “to get married so someone other then the one she loves,” Fabian explained.

ROD investigators said the issue underscored the hurdles minority Christians face in their religious and private life in this predominantly Muslim nation.” We can imagine what crisis and agony the family is going through,” ROD said in a statement.

Several Christian politicians have said they hope Pakistan’s Christian minority will receive more rights after the upcoming general elections on February 18. Yet a suicide bombing over the weekend, killing up to 25 people, added to concerns that Islamic militants will attempt to undermine the democratic process.

MAJOR RALLY

The bomber struck as hundreds of people gathered for a meeting of the Awami National Party (ANP), a small, nationalist ethnic Pashtun party, in the town of Charsadda in North West Frontier Province on Saturday, February 9, witnesses said.

Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz reportedly linked the attack to a wave of other bombings blamed on Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants that have claimed more than 70 lives this year.

Election rallies have been sparse since former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s death in a suicide bomb and gun attack in Rawalpindi on December 27. The government issued a “security advisory” for candidates to avoid big gatherings, news reports said.