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Pakistani Muslim prisoners attempt to convert Christian inmates to Islam

By Sheraz Khurram Khan
2/13/08 PAKISTAN (ANS) — Christian prisoners in several jails in the Punjab province of Pakistan have complained of alleged torture, discrimination and attempts by Muslim prisoners to convert them to Islam, ANS has learnt.

The Christian prisoners apprised the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP), a prison ministry, of their problems to a ministry team who made visits to several jails in the province recently.

Prisoners, Saleem and Salamat, who are serving their sentences in the central jail in the industrial city of Sheikhupura, told the ministry that Muslim inmates are pressuring them to convert to Islam.

Victor, another Christian inmate at the Sheikhupura jail alleged that the Muslim prisoners and the jail officials forced them to fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Condemning these alleged attempts to convert the Christian prisoners to Islam, the Chief Coordinator of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) said it shocked him to learn from the Christian inmates that the jail officials were also forcing them to convert to Islam. He termed the attempts by the Muslim prisoners and the jail officials to convert the Christian prisoners to Islam as a “breach of their human rights.”

Shahnawaz, a Christian inmate of Toba Tek Singh Jail also alleged that the police torture had damaged the muscles of his legs.

Younis Masih, a Christian jail staff member told the SLMP that he felt insecure during his duty time. He alleged that he was also being discriminated against.

The Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan has long been campaigning for the Prayer Rooms for Christian inmates in the prisons of Punjab province. Last year the Christian prisoners of Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, a city near the capital Islamabad, were forced to stage hunger strike after the laundry room they were earlier using as a prayer room was taken away from them.

In most of the cases the Muslim police officials, while handling a blasphemy accused caes in the past, have often failed to strike a balance between their reason and emotion that have led to the killing of the Christians at the hands of Muslim police officials.