Deaf Christian escapes captor who forced her to convert to Islam

A severely disabled Pakistani Christian girl faces death threats if she does not return to her Muslim abductor who forcibly converted her to Islam.

Asma, the girl's Christian name which became Aysha under her Muslim captors, has been told by Islamic clerics that she cannot live with her Christian parents because she has converted to Islam and married a Muslim, according to CLAAS-UK, a legal persecution charity.

ReutersPakistani Christians demonstrate over the lynching of a Christian couple in a village in Punjab province in November 2014. Christians face systematic discrimination in Pakistan.

But the girl's lawyer said she was kidnapped by a powerful neighbour several months ago and forced into a marriage. Despite the protestations of her father, Gulzah Masih, he felt unable to retrieve his daughter, who is both deaf and dumb, because of the influence of the captor, Ghulam Hussain.

Hussain's documents of marriage and alleged conversion are "clearly forged", according to the charity.

But police have sided with Hussain and ordered Masih to return his daughter after she escaped and re-joined her parents. The Christian persecution charity said this was because of "pressure from Muslim clerks".

In a statement on Wednesday they said "the situation has become very dangerous" after Asma and her family faced death threats from Muslims clerics. The religious leaders believe Asma converted to Islam and then re-converted back to Christianity, making her an apostate and liable to be killed.

Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, said the increase of forced conversion and kidnapping of Christian and other minorities' girls is down to the government's failure.

"Since the government has failed to investigate Muslim clerks who are suspected of being involved in forced conversion and the issuing false certificates of conversion and marriages, such crimes will continue happening and I see no end to innocent Christian and other minorities girls' misery. Instead I am scared that it will worsen.

"Shamefully the police, who are supposed to follow the law, side with the kidnappers and also come under pressure of the local Muslim clerks instead of registering cases against them and the perpetrators. This attitude and government's insensitivities have emboldened the criminals and they commit such crimes without any fear."

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