Sunday, July 24, 2011

ASIA: PAKISTAN: MUSLIM FORCED TO HIDE FOR MARRYING CHRISTIAN

ASIA NEWS REPORT: A couple comprising a Christian and a Muslim is forced to live hiding: society condemns their love, for an Islamic scholar it "is punishable by death." The bishop of Islamabad: "The State must defend them, or it will soon disappear."

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - The religious intolerance that is destroying Pakistan continues unabated. The latest case in point is that of a couple comprising a Christian and a Muslim, who married without the consent of the families of origin and are now forced to live on the run from one place to another for fear of violence. The bishop of Islamabad has defended them: "Marriage should be free. The state must guarantee them freedom of choice. "

The pair is composed of Asthma Zubaida, a Muslim, and Basharat Masih, a Christian. Both lived in the town of Gujranwala, where they met and fell in love: the first was a teacher in the local government school, while Masih was an official of the Department of the school administration. Without parental consent, they were married in September 2010: since then have started to receive frequent death threats forcing them to flee.

The newlyweds have sought police help. Malik Arif, a police officer, said: "We have been contacted for assistance, they claimed the situation was life threatening. In fact, their complaint explains that her family attacked Masih a couple of months ago, when they discovered the marriage. The attacks also targeted the family of Christians. " "They too have been forced to flee."

One of Masih’s relatives, anonymous for security reasons, said: "We have been threatened, our home came under attack, they have even arrived at throwing stones at us from the street That Basharat is obviously more at risk: they want him dead. We asked for help, but nobody paid any attention to us: neither the police nor the local politicians. " Despite the fact she gave police a statement confirming that the marriage took place without any constraint.

Maulana Muhammad Sultan Haider, a Muslim scholar in Islamabad says that this "does not change anything. Only a Muslim man can marry a non-Muslim woman, because it would water down future generations. I condemn this marriage, I call it illegal, these two could be killed for what they did. "

Diametrically opposed to the opinion of Mgr. Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad and Rawalpindi: "This is a case of intolerance. Marriage is a sacrament between two people, others have nothing to do with it. A state that fails to guarantee its citizens freedom of choice, religious or family, will not survive long. Why should a Muslim girl not marry a non Muslim? Why do marriages with non-Muslims aim to convert. They see it as a great victory, but is only coercion”.

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