Forced conversions hike Pakistan minorities’ fears


It was barely 4 a.m. when 19-year-old Rinkal Kumari disappeared from her home in a small village in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. When her parents awoke they found only her slippers and a scarf outside the door.
A few hours later her father got a call telling him his daughter, a Hindu, had converted to Islam to marry a Muslim boy.

Only days later, Seema Bibi, a Christian woman in the province of Punjab, was kidnapped along with her four children after her husband couldn’t repay a loan to a large landlord. Within hours, her husband was told his wife had converted to Islam and wouldn’t be coming home. Seema Bibi escaped, fled the village and has gone underground with her husband and children.

Hindu and Christian representatives say forced conversions to Islam have become the latest weapon of Islamic extremists in what they call a growing campaign against Pakistan’s religious minorities, Continue reading

Conversions threaten Pakistan’s “Macedonian” tribe


Nestled among the valleys of Pakistan’s mountainous northwest, a tiny religious community that claims descent from Alexander the Great’s army is under increasing pressure from radicals bent on converting them to Islam.

The Kalash, who number just about 3,500 in Pakistan’s population of 180 million, are spread over three valleys along the border with Afghanistan.

For centuries they practiced polytheism and animal sacrifice without interference from members of Pakistan’s Muslim majority.

But now they are under increasing danger from proselytising Muslim militants just across the border, and a hardline interpretation of Islam creeping through mainstream society.

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