Clerics in Pakistan Oppose Law Aimed at Criminalizing Forced Conversions
09/18/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), Muslim clerics in Pakistan are opposing a proposed law aimed at stopping the forced conversion of minorities.
The Prohibition of Forced Religious Conversion Bill has been put forward by Naveed Amir Jeeva, a Christian legislator. Currently the bill is pending before the Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.
For years, human rights defenders and leaders of Pakistan’s minority communities have been asking the government to pass a law that would criminalize abduction, forced conversion, and forced marriage.
In February, a parliamentary committee recommended that only a “mature person” be allowed to change their religious after appearing before an additional sessions judge. An official procedure was also recommending by the committee that provided a timeline for the conversion to be given final approval.
Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, a cleric appointed a special representative on religious harmony by Pakistan’s Prime Minister, rejected the bill and called it the “anti-Quran bill.”
“Such opposition from the Muslim clerics is a matter of grave concern,” Father Mushtaq Anjum told UCAN. “Human rights must be upheld. The international community looks at Pakistan and how it behaves towards minorities. Such blatant refusal from the clerics is unacceptable. We reject this mindset.”
According to a 2014 study done by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu women, many minors, are abducted, forcefully converted to Islam, and forcefully married to their abductor every year.
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