We just helped secure a critical victory for a Christian family facing targeted persecution in Pakistan.
Our European Centre for Law and Justice’s (ECLJ) affiliate in Pakistan has secured a victory for a young Christian man and his family who were being threatened and harassed by a Muslim neighbor and the local police because the Christian man married the Muslim neighbor’s daughter.
The problems started when the Muslim neighbor found out that his daughter was in a relationship with Masih, a Christian neighbor. In January 2021, seven men kidnapped the Christian man and took him to the Muslim neighbor’s house where they severely beat him.
After Masih fell unconscious, the Muslim neighbor called the police and falsely accused Masih of entering his house and attempting to rape his daughter (while other family members were also present in the house, according to the police report).
Masih was taken to the hospital where he underwent medical treatment for several days.
On February 15, 2021, the Muslim neighbor’s daughter fled her parents’ home and married Masih. Her family filed false kidnapping charges against Masih. The next day, however, Masih’s wife testified in court that she left her parents’ house and married Masih of her own free will and that the allegations against Masih were false.
In Pakistan, it is very difficult for a Christian man to marry a Muslim woman. Such relationships and marriages are rare and often lead to serious threats to the Christian men or their families’ lives.
Many young Christian girls, on the other hand, are forcibly converted to Islam and married to older Muslim men. According to one estimate, about 1,000 young Christian and Hindu girls are converted to Islam and married to Muslim men every year. Justice in these cases is rarely provided.
In Masih’s case, the Muslim neighbors did not stop threatening his family even after their daughter testified in court that the allegations against her husband were baseless and that she was happily living with her husband. When the false charges did not lead to further prosecution, the Muslim neighbors demanded that Masih, his parents, and siblings leave their family home and transfer the ownership of the home to them as compensation for Masih’s actions. To mount more pressure, they filed another application with the police, alleging that Masih’s family was threatening to kidnap their other daughters.
The local police and a local political leader were also complicit in threatening Masih’s family, which led them to flee their home and stay with relatives in another city to avoid further retaliation.
On April 16, 2021, our attorney in Pakistan filed a petition in the Sessions Court against the local police, seeking orders to stop them from threatening and harassing Masih’s family. On May 3, 2021, after hearing arguments, the court directed the police to not harass the Christian family. This order means that the police will be less likely to further help the Muslim neighbors in threatening Masih and his family or pursuing other means of retaliation.
After the court orders, Masih’s parents and siblings went back to their family home and have not faced further threats. Now, our team on the ground is preparing to file motions to dismiss the false charges against Masih.
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