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Ten-year-old Christian girl kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam

Suhail Masih, the kidnapped girl's father expressed his resentment over how officials reacted and refused to prosecute the perpetrators.

Laiba was abducted by four non-Muslims under the orders of a powerful Muslim, Shaukat Shah, on the 12th of February. The parents filed an abduction report against Shah right away, but since then, Roshan Wala Police Station has not taken action to recover their daughter. The court sent Laiba to a women’s shelter. Masih was advised that his daughter had filed an application claiming she had converted to Islam on the 15th of February. However, Masih found out afterwards that Shah had taken Laiba from the shelter. Masih reasonably questioned how his 10-year-old daughter could have wilfully converted to Islam when she had not received any religious education. 

Shah has a reputation for forcibly converting children to Islam under coercion, pressuring them to file court statements claiming they deliberately converted. He is also well-known for taking children from shelter homes on the excuse of giving them religious education.

The girl’s father has expressed his disappointment with authorities and concerns about Laiba’s whereabouts since the incident: “This is Shah’s modus operandi. No one knows what happens to his victims after they are handed to him. We fear that he and his accomplices are involved in sex trafficking, and they sell these minor girls when they see that the families are in no position to pursue the matter further in court. On Feb. 15, police informed us that Laiba had filed an application in the court of a magistrate in which she had claimed that she had converted to Islam of her own free will ‘after being impressed with Islamic teachings. We immediately went to the court, where we saw our minor daughter surrounded by several policemen. We were not allowed to talk to her despite our repeated requests. The police later presented her before the magistrate, where she reportedly repeated the contents of the application. She also sought to be sent to the Dar Ul Aman women’s shelter -, which the magistrate accepted. We could not do anything after Laiba’s statement before the court, which I believe was extracted under duress. We were not given any opportunity to ask her under what circumstances she was forced to give this statement. It is a blatant lie that my daughter has changed her faith willingly. Whatever little religious education she has is from the church’s Sunday school. She has had no interaction with Muslims because she used to stay at home all day long to take care of me and her mother.”

Masih and his wife are members of the Church of Pakistan. He is disabled, and his wife also has health problems. 

According to Christian attorney Sumera Shafique: “Laiba’s case is yet another example of how Sharia law is invoked to undermine the age of a minor. In her statement before the magistrate, the girl claimed that she was an adult, but her official birth document states her age is ten years and two months. The victim’s family should immediately seek legal help instead of turning to touts, who are focused only on making money from their plight. In this case, a month has passed, but the family has reportedly been unable to meet their daughter even once. A habeas corpus petition must be filed immediately in the Lahore High Court. The child is hardly ten years old, and I believe the high court will take her conversion matter very seriously.”


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