Urgent Appeal: Justice for Laiba – Confronting the Appalling Kidnap and Forced Conversion of a 10-Year-Old Girl

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London: (By Hannah Chowdhry and Juliet Chowdhry) A young Christian girl was tragically abducted in Faisalabad and forcefully converted to Islam. Due to the coercer’s insistence that the conversion was the will of Allah, the courts callously refuse to allow the girl to reunite with her anguished parents. The heartbroken father is shattered, tears streaming down his face, as he pleads for prayers and support from the global Christian community. In their time of need, the family finds solace as British Asian Christian Association (BACA) steps in to stand in solidarity, offering crucial legal support and assistance.

On the night of February 11th, tragedy struck the peaceful home of the Masih family in Chak 233, Rub Hari Singh, Faisalabad. Laiba Suhail, a child of merely 10 years, was cruelly snatched from her residence. The perpetrator, identified as Muhammad Mohsin Shah, a known extremist bent on converting Christian girls, executed his nefarious plan under the cover of darkness.

The following day, Laiba’s innocence was exploited as she was forcibly converted to Islam, coerced by Shah’s zealotry and manipulation. Unwilling to relinquish his hold on his prey, Shah cunningly used Shari-based legal mechanisms to place Laiba in a shelter home, all while callously proclaiming the conversion to be the will of Allah when confronted by Laiba’s distraught parents.

The heart-wrenching scene unfolded in the early hours of the morning, as Suhail Masih (55 yrs), ailing and dependent on a walking stick due to his diabetes, awoke to discover his beloved daughter’s absence. Panic-stricken, he roused his wife, Balqees Bibi (52 yrs), and their son, Imran Masih (18 yrs), from their slumber. Together, the family embarked on a frantic search through the streets, their minds clouded with fear and grief at the unimaginable loss of their dear Laiba.

Suhail Masih, overwhelmed with shock and despair, recounted to BACA how the news of Laiba’s disappearance rendered him immobile, his body paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of the tragedy. He struggled to keep pace with his son, who darted frantically through the streets in a desperate bid to locate his missing sister.

“My wife’s anguished cries pierced the night, her voice echoing Laiba’s name into the darkness,” Suhail lamented, his voice trembling with sorrow.

As the commotion drew the attention of concerned neighbors, their hearts were moved by the raw anguish etched upon the faces of the grieving parents. Without hesitation, they rallied to the Masih family’s side, joining the frantic search for Laiba.

Amidst the chaos, a ray of hope flickered as Muhammad Muneeb, a compassionate Muslim neighbor, came forward with crucial information. He revealed witnessing Laiba being forcibly taken by a neighbour named Mr. Irfan and some associates, who callously whisked her away in a van, leaving behind a trail of unanswered questions and raising concern about the child’s safety.

“The ground beneath me crumbled at the weight of this terrible news,” Suhail confessed, his faith in his community shaken to its core. The realization that such cruelty could lurk within their midst was a devastating blow.

The devastating news propelled Suhail Masih and his family to Mr. Irfan’s home, hoping against hope to find some clue that might lead them to their beloved daughters whereabouts. However, their hopes were dashed as they encountered a locked door, an impenetrable barrier in their desperate search for answers.

The distraught elderly parents stood before the silent facade of Mr. Irfan’s home, their hearts heavy with despair and uncertainty. Caught in the grip of a nightmare they never imagined, they struggled to comprehend the depth of the tragedy that had befallen their family without warning.

“She was our ray of sunshine, her smile a beacon of joy in our lives,” Suhail reminisced, tears streaming down his cheeks as he spoke of his beloved daughter. “Her love knew no bounds, and now we are lost without her,” he added, his hands clasped in a fervent plea for Laiba’s safe return.

Amidst the anguish and desperation, the community rallied around Suhail Masih, urging him to seek assistance from the authorities. With their support, Suhail made his way to Roshanwala Police Station, where an FIR (First Information Report) was promptly filed against the abductors under section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

365.     Kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person:

Whoever kidnaps or abducts any person with intent to cause that person to be secretly and wrongfully confined, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.

However, the harrowing saga took an even darker turn on the evening of February 12th. As Suhail and his wife grappled with their grief, they received a letter from Mr. Irfan, delivering news that shattered their already fragile hearts. The letter revealed that their beloved daughter had been forcibly converted to Islam at Dur-ul-Hufaz, Faisalabad, under the guidance of Muhammad Qari Abdul Jabbar Rizvi.

“We wept uncontrollably. There are no words to describe the agony,” Balqees Bibi shared with BACA, her voice trembling with pain. “It was as if we had been told our daughter had been violated and murdered,” she added, her sorrow palpable.

The family is currently facing harassment and intimidation from Muslim neighbors who believe that young Laiba has converted to Islam. Amidst this hostile environment, they urgently require assistance in securing a safe house and legal representation to pursue the return of their daughter. However, local police have offered minimal support, raising concerns that without legal advocacy, Laiba may never be reunited with her family.

To support the family in their quest for justice and reunification, we are launching an appeal to raise funds. We aim to collect £1500 to cover the costs of hiring a solicitor and an additional £200 per month for rent over a period of 6 months initially. These resources are vital to ensure that the family has access to legal assistance and a secure living environment during this challenging time.

We invite individuals to contribute to this urgent appeal by donating (here). Every contribution, no matter how small, will make a meaningful difference in helping this family navigate through the complexities of the legal system and ultimately bring Laiba back home where she belongs. Thank you for your generosity and support.

Sunil Masih and his family have asked British Asian Christian Association, for

Yet, the torment of the grieving parents did not end there. Advised by someone in the community, Suhail Masih sought out Mr. Mohsin Shah, a notorious figure known for his zeal in converting Christian girls to Islam. Alongside fellow Christians, Suhail pleaded with Shah to return his innocent 10-year-old daughter.

However, their pleas fell on deaf ears as Shah callously dismissed their requests, asserting that ‘Laiba had willingly embraced Islam, the religion of truth and peace’. With ruthless indifference, he rejected the anguished father’s pleas, refusing to entertain the notion of returning Laiba to her Christian parents.

The rampant incidents of forced conversions of Hindu and Christian girls in Pakistan highlight a deeply concerning issue within the country. Despite efforts to address this problem, religious zealots continue to exploit vulnerable minority communities with impunity.

In 2021, Mr. Naveed Amir Jeeva, a parliamentarian, courageously introduced a bill in the assembly aimed at combating forced conversions. The bill proposed crucial measures such as setting a minimum age for conversion seekers, imposing strict penalties on those who coerce conversions, and establishing a legal framework to regulate religious conversions. However, this commendable initiative faced staunch opposition and was ultimately rejected by the parliament.

Tragically, the Ministry of Religious Affairs rejected the bill on the grounds that it was deemed “anti-Islamic (click here).” This decision underscores the challenges faced in addressing forced conversions, as religious considerations often take precedence over human rights and the protection of minority communities.

Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for the British Asian Christian Association, expressed grave concern over the recent kidnapping of a young Christian girl in Pakistan and the subsequent failure of law enforcement to ensure her safe return to her family. She emphasized that ‘this incident epitomizes the pervasive religious extremism that plagues Pakistani society’.

Chowdhry highlighted the disturbing reality that ‘the girl’s forced conversion to the majority religion, particularly at such a vulnerable age, has hindered an adequate response from both the police and the courts’. She condemned this delay as ‘utterly unacceptable’, as ‘it leaves the distraught Christian family in a state of uncertainty and fear for the safety and well-being of their daughter’.

“The lack of clarity regarding whether the family will ever be reunited compounds the anguish of the situation, especially considering the unfortunate outcomes of similar incidents in the past.”

Mrs Chowdhry, added:

“The rejection of the Anti-forced Conversion Bill reflects a systemic failure to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation.

“Until meaningful action is taken to address this issue, vulnerable minority groups will continue to suffer at the hands of religious extremists, perpetuating a cycle of injustice and discrimination.”

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"Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" By Nazir S Bhatti

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