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(Morning Star News) – The uncle of two Muslim girls in eastern Uganda who put their faith in Christ on Sunday (Feb. 1) beat them and locked them in a room without food for nearly three days, sources said.
Nabagabana Fatuma, 14, and her 16-year-old sister, Namwase Aisha, need trauma counseling and medical care after the Muslim uncle who has custody of them, Kakongoka Ahamadah, mistreated them at their home in Nasenye village, Pallisa District, because they had converted to Christianity, sources said.
“My uncle became so furious because we had embraced Jesus,” Aisha told a Morning Star News source. “He locked us inside the house and began beating us with a wooden stick, and then we were left for three days without food. At the third day, we felt as if we were going to die, and we began crying for help.”
Ahamadah had taken custody of the sisters after the death of their father five years ago. The girls’ father had retained custody after divorcing their mother two years before he died, sources said.
Aisha said that she and her sister had been attending classes at an Islamic school (madrassa) where they had been taught about jinn, or supernatural creatures from another world, which they said were oppressing them.
“We were always troubled by the Islamic jinn, and on many occasions we missed sleep during the night, and we then decided secretly to attend the Christian prayer meeting to seek to be set free,” she said.
They went to a worship gathering at a church in the area whose name is withheld for security reasons.
“Before leaving he church, we told the pastor of our problems, who first prayed for us to be followers of Jesus and later prayed that the evil spirits will not torment us again,” Aisha said. “After the prayers, we felt as if a big burden had been rolled away.”
Full of joy, the two girls arrived home and told their uncle what Jesus had done for them, she said. The subsequent beating left her with a swollen cheek and an injury to her left leg, the extent of which is unknown as she needs to have it scanned, while Fatuma’s right arm was injured, sources said.
Ahamadah was not available for comment. Sources said he arranged for the children to be taken to a Uganda branch of the Dawat-e-Islami, a global movement propagating the Quran and Islamic teaching, in the Sekulo area on Tuesday (Feb. 3). While he was away buying food in a nearby town, however, a friend of his arrived at the house. The children were crying, and the uncle’s friend decided to break the padlock, sources said.
The girls feared telling the friend, also a Muslim, what had happened.
“We told him that we had gone out without the permission of our uncle, who had then decided to lock us inside the house,” Aisha said.
The visitor told them he was going to town and would return soon with their uncle.
“As he left, we then decided to flee to the church,” Aisha said.
A church leader whose name is withheld for security reasons confirmed circumstances of the girls’ conversion and ordeal to Morning Star News. He initially took them to his home.
“When the two sisters arrived at my home, I decided to take them to a hiding place because I knew the uncle would soon come for the children,” he said. “The children looked pale, confused and traumatized. They need medical attention.”
The population of Uganda is less than 12 percent Muslim, according to Operation World. Catholics are the largest Christian denomination at 39 percent of the population of 28.6 million, followed by Anglicans at 36 percent; Protestants are less than 7 percent of the total population, and “independent” churches make up about 3 percent.
(Morning Star News) As U.S. officials and other global players try to help recover about 180 girls kidnapped from a majority-Christian high school in Nigeria’s Borno state last month, scores of similarly heart-breaking stories of Islamist abductions have gone unheeded.
One such case involved a Christian father of three girls from Chibok, the predominantly Christian town in Borno state where militants from the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 230 high school girls the night of April 15 (about 50 have since escaped). Boko Haram – which has taken the girls deep into the forest between Nigeria and Cameroon and says it is selling them to be married to its militants –and other Islamic extremists have been kidnapping Christian girls for years. The father I met in Maiduguri in 2007 lost his girls to kidnappers after the death of his ex-wife, who had divorced him for converting to Christianity.
The death of his ex-wife led her Muslim relatives to persuade him to let their three girls visit their mother’s family home in November 2004 in order to mourn her. After a week the father, whose name is withheld for security reasons, went to collect the girls; he found a retired police officer had helped Muslim relatives take her to another house in Maiduguri, where they were held incommunicado.
All efforts by this Christian father to rescue his children from the Muslim relatives of his wife became futile. Father and children were separated and never saw each other. Muslim leaders in Maiduguri bluntly told him that because he was a Christian, an “infidel,” he could not be allowed to be with his three children. In an interview, he told me how government officials in Borno state and the state judiciary frustrated his efforts to reclaim his children. He had kept custody of them after his wife divorced him in 1996, and when she remarried in 2000 he had maintained custody. After her death, however, he had to obtain legal help to ask for an order to restrain Muslim relatives from keeping his children – ages 14, 12 and 11 when I spoke with him in 2007. He said he needed to have custody of his children to give them the fatherly love they required, especially since their mother had died.
Muslim leaders and government officials ensured there was a travesty of justice. The judge who presided over the case denied him custody of his children because he was a Christian. I wept as I read the judgment of the court. I still have a copy of this judgment. The judge stated that under Islam, a non-Muslim cannot be given custody of children unless he converts to Islam. The judge said his decision to deny him custody of his children was rooted in Islamic law and jurisprudence.
The most excruciating experience for him was that his children were not only forcefully taken away from him, but that they were forcefully enrolled into an Islamic school to receive instruction on Islam. I wrote an article that year about this incident, and I recall that it was published in some parts of the world by some online publications and news media. But that was all there was to it; no government official in Nigeria made any effort to rescue these Christian girls and reunite them with their father.
Because of the conspiracy of some powerful Islamic forces and those in positions of power in the government of Borno state, the kidnapping case went unheard. Now, seven years after the story of the kidnapping of those children and the forceful separation from their father, we are seeing terrorists abduct mainly Christians girls in Borno on a larger scale. The Nigerian government appears helpless in the face of this tragedy.
Chibok, along with Gwoza and Uba areas, provides Christians in Borno state with a Christian environment they inherited from previous generations. Christian missionary activities in Borno state were largely centered around these towns. Since the emergence of insurgency in Borno state and other northeastern states of Nigeria, Chibok and other Christian towns and villages have come under attack from Boko Haram, which seeks to impose strict sharia (Islamic law) throughout the country.
The kidnapping of the Christian girls, ages 16 to 18, is the height of the religious madness that has engulfed Nigeria. Most Christians in this part of Nigeria have been forced to flee their homes. Some of these Christians are now refugees in other countries like Cameroon, while others have been displaced to other parts of Nigeria. Christians in northern Nigeria are left with no other option than to lament over their plight.
Will other Christians across the world also look on without doing something about their plight?
In the company of armed militants, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau laughed as he claimed in a recently released video,
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah. Allah has instructed me to sell them. They are his property and I will carry out his instructions.”
Now we learn that more girls have been abducted as the U.S. prepares to send military personnel, law enforcement personnel and others with experience in intelligence, investigations, hostage negotiation and victims’ assistance, per White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Concerns about the amount of time which has gone by since the kidnapping (22 days) he mentioned, time is of the essence.
“Appropriate action must be taken to locate and to free these young women before they are trafficked or killed.”
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, today. He welcomed the secretary’s offer to send support to discuss assistance.
The latest abductions appear to be very similar to the Chibok kidnapping of what is now claimed to be near 300 girls.
The Telegraph is reporting that Islamic militants kidnapped eight girls aged between 12 and 15 from a village (Warabe) near one of their strongholds in northeast Nigeria.
“They came in two vehicles painted in army colour. They started shooting in our village.”
A police source said the girls were taken away in the early hours of Tuesday on trucks, along with looted livestock and food. The Islamist rebels are still holding 276 girls.
In the Chibok attack, as with the Warabe seizure, the militants arrived disguised as soldiers.
A 16-year-old girl told AP she remembered them saying. “Don’t worry, we’re soldiers, Nothing is going to happen to you.”
The gunmen commanded the hundreds of students at the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School to gather outside. The men went into a storeroom and removed all the food. Then they set fire to the room.
“They started shouting, ‘Allahu Akhbar,’ (God is great),” the 16-year-old student said. “And we knew.”
A 16-year-old girl and her friend jumped out, and managed to escape by running into the forest when a terrorist vehicle broke down.
Though warned just prior to the attack, local officials were unable to fight off the nearly 200 militant invasion.
Due to the voices of many concerned citizens, globally in protest of these evil crimes, we are finally seeing more media attention and world governments stirring to action. The U.S. is preparing to get involved in their rescue, while Britain is also prepared to send special forces and intelligence-gathering aircraft to Nigeria to help aid in their rescue. Obviously the Nigerian government is incapable of eradicating this dire threat not only for Christians, but all Nigerian citizens.
We pray there will be new operations planned and put into action to aid in the elimination of the vile terrorist group who are filled with nothing but hatred. And bring peace and stability to an area Voice of the Persecuted not only reports on, but have one of our own deep in the trenches of what is now being called the Afghanistan of Nigeria. Please don’t stop raising your voices and keep Nigeria in your prayers. Pray for protection.
By L. Kanalos
Forced conversion to Islam of Christian and Hindu girls continues to rise in Pakistan. A recent report launched by the MSP (Movement for Solidarity and Peace) revealed that 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls, aged between 12 and 25, are forced to convert to Islam every year. It is estimated that Christian girls make up 70 per cent of this number, while Hindus make up the remainder.
The revelations are extremely alarming as minorities make up only five per cent of the country’s population where Muslims are the overwhelming majority. This is taking place against a backdrop where minorities are already feeling very insecure and vulnerable, placing them at unimaginable risk.
Christians are poor and 80 to 85 per cent of them live in the Punjab province, with 40 per cent of them living below the poverty line. I can see this number growing in the future, not just because the government has no interest but also because the Christian political and church leadership have no interest whatsoever either.
In villages the majority of poor Christians work with the landowners, while in urban areas poor Christian girls and women work as domestic servants where they are sexually abused, harassed, sometimes forced to convert to Islam, and are even killed on occasion.
I remember the case of 12-year-old Christian girl Shazia Bashir who was killed by her employer. I am not aware of anybody being punished for the crime.
Christian girls are the weakest and most vulnerable because their communities are poor, defenceless and marginalised, therefore they easily exposed to harassment and threats. Often they do not even have the courage to denounce the violence or lodge complaints about the treatment they suffer.
The findings in the new report do not come as a surprise, as a few years ago the HRCP (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan) made similar revelations. But unfortunately the government institutions keep denying these facts and have failed to implement any change.
These facts and figures have been taken from a major newspaper and NGOs working on this issue, and it is thought the actual number could be much higher as many cases of forced conversion go unreported because influential locals and religious leaders are often involved.
Even if they dare to report the matter to the police, such cases are hardly registered and if the case is registered the complainants are threatened to withdraw the case. If the case does somehow reach court, justice is hardly done and therefore many cases go unreported. In many cases even if the abducted person is produced, she gives a statement in favour of her abductor stating that she converted to Islam and married by her own free will.
This is because they are terrified, as throughout the proceedings they are in their abductor’s custody, instead of being with their parents, or in independent accommodation and a fear-free environment. Under duress and the threat of their parents and families being killed, young girls are forced to give statements saying that they converted of their own accord.
I have studied many cases and reached the conclusion that whenever the girls get the chance, they escape from their abductors, like the case of Nadia Naira who has returned to her parents after 10 years. There are several such examples.
The police are normally inactive and reluctant to register such cases, where Christian or non-Muslims girls are kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam and then married to their Muslim abductor.
Magistrates and lower courts have failed to implement the law, sometimes they are pressurised by the local religious and political leaders, but are mostly complicit. Even the Supreme Court has failed to uphold international norms of justice in non-Muslim cases and use the available selective procedures.
The adult age for Christian girls in Pakistan is 18, while under Islamic laws, there is no age limit for a Muslim. But courts sometimes override the non-Muslim personal law and decide the case under Muslim law, like in 2009 when two Christian sisters Saba Younis, aged 13, and her sister, Anila Younis, 10, were abducted.
CLAAS, a Christian NGO, was directly involved in this case, but at the end of the day, the judge decided their case under the Islamic law and sent Saba with her husband, while Anila returned to her family. CLAAS objected and called it a miscarriage of justice protesting that the decision did not meet the international criteria, but since it was a matter of Christian girls, no one cared.
I have understood from several cases that the practice of forced conversion is well organised and well established, and to seek immunity from the crime, the culprits obtain conversion certificates from local mosques and change their names too.
Sometimes counter FIRs (first information police reports) are registered to harass the girl’s family. The abducted girls are threatened and are forced to sign sometimes blank papers, and sometimes a statement that she has embraced Islam by her own free will, just to save their and their families’ lives.
Sometimes they are told that since they have become Muslim they cannot reconvert to Christianity as it would be considered apostasy. In such circumstances they have no choice but to accept the hand fate has dealt them, and suffer in silence in the custody of their abductors.
They are not allowed to see their parents and other relatives, and are kept under tight security – nothing short of modern day slavery and a serious violation of fundamental and human rights.
In such cases the victim may be subjected to sexual violence, rape, forced prostitution, human trafficking, sale or domestic abuse.
Pakistan is considered one of the toughest and most hostile countries for minorities. Religious extremism, hatred, and religious intolerance continues to grow and exacerbate the misery of young Christian girls.
Religious freedom should be recognised as a fundamental right as Pakistan is a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it is hardly applied in practice.
Apart from the that, Pakistan has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and several other international treaties and instruments which explicitly talk about religious freedom and women rights, but Pakistan is a country where the value of human rights has no significance and when it comes to the matter of minorities nobody cares.
The human rights situation continue to deteriorate and the international community has raised its concern on several occasions, and the recent GSP-plus status granted to Pakistan was linked to the human rights situation improving, but Pakistan is well practised in the art of fooling the West.
Apart from international treaties, Pakistan’s own constitution includes several articles referring to religious freedom, protection of minorities, and equality before the law. Despite this, minorities are unfortunately rarely allowed to enjoy their rights and live under constant fear of their lives.
Minorities are demanding new legislation to stop this enduring situation, but the court has said that there is no need for new laws.
The government has also failed to address this problem so it means their misery will worsen in the coming years. Hindus and Christians have already started migrating to India and other countries because Pakistan’s laws have failed to protect their honour, and for these women honour and life are all they have.
Forcible conversion to Islam in Pakistan in the 21st century is an open challenge for everybody who believes in equality, justice, religious freedom and human rights. Minorities are losing faith in the government and courts. There is a loathsome continuation of dual discrimination towards women, as females and as members of minority communities. It is a serious issue of survival for minorities in Pakistan and the international community must pay attention to stop the continuous violation of the fundamental and human rights of minorities.
By Nasir Saeed, Pakistan Christian Post