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07/18/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Saima Sardar, a resident of a Christian-majority neighborhood in Faisalabad, was reportedly shot and killed on July 10 by Muhammad Waseem, a Muslim man, after she refused to convert to Islam and marry him. According to local reports, Sardar worked as a staff nurse at a local district hospital where she was murdered.

A few months prior to the incident, Sardar complained of being harassed by Waseem. She was so deeply concerned by the harassment that her brother, Akash Masih, had to accompany his sister to and from the hospital every day. Local reports claim that Masih was in the hospital when his sister was shot.

Speaking to International Christian Concern (ICC), people close to Sardar’s family claim, “Saima was in [a] healthy and friendly relationship with Waseem. However, when he continuously insisted Saima convert [to Islam], she decided to keep distance from him and prove her loyalty to her Christian faith. Therefore, Saima very boldly refused his proposal even though she was threatened with consequences.

Samia was reportedly engaged to another man and was supposed to be married in November. Waseem, angered by the rejection from a Christian girl, continued to push for a relationship with Saima. He reportedly insisted that if her family failed to allow her to marry him, he was willing to go to court with the issue.

When ICC spoke to a friend of Saima, she said, “Saima was a committed and practicing Christian, therefore she did not betray Jesus.”

Pakistani Christians are often viewed as second-class citizens. This widely held bias, held by many in Pakistan’s Muslim majority, is the root cause for much of the persecution and discrimination experienced by the country’s Christian community.

In cases where Christian women reject the advances of Muslim men or refuse invitations to convert to Islam, violence can erupt. Because of this, Christian women are often kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam. According to a study by The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, as many as 1,000 Christian and Hindu women face this treatment in Pakistan every year.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]