ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christian Girl kidnapped and converted to Islam back home after 10 years

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - Nadia Bibi, a Christian girl who was abducted and forced to marry a Muslim man, returned to her family, of Catholic faith, after 10 years. Nadia was only 15 when, in 2001, she was kidnapped in Mariamabad (in Punjab), a city with a Catholic majority: her case is not an isolated case, as confirmed by Catholic sources of Fides in Punjab, there are at least 700 cases a year of Christian girls kidnapped and forced to marry a Muslim. If one adds the cases of Hindu girls, the number rises to 1,800 cases per year, says a recent Report carried out by the NGO "Asian Human Rights Commission". Nadia's parents had turned to the police but, as often happens, they had been intimidated and threatened by the kidnappers, while the police refused to register a complaint. Later, when they heard that Nadia had been forced to marry the Muslim Maqsood Ahmed, her parents went back to the police and this time they managed to register a FIR (First Information Report). But the police refused to arrest him and the story ended up before the High Court of Lahore. Here Nadia, under threats, issued a statement in favor of her husband, expressing her free will to marry, for fear of tragic consequences for her and her family. So the case was closed. Meanwhile, for Nadia life was unbearable: Maqsood beat her and treated her badly, even asking her to convert her parents to Islam. After 10 years in December 2011, Nadia found the strength to escape, returning home to her parents. However Maqsood returned with a group of armed men, threatening to kill and kidnap Nadia’s younger sister. The family then fled and turned to the NGO CLAAS (Center for Legal Aid Assistence and Settlement) that protects Pakistani Christians. CLAAS has arranged to host Nadia and her sister in a hidden place, starting a new criminal case against Maqsood. As reported by CLAAS to Fides, Nadia said: "Maqsood made my life miserable. I was afraid of being killed because Maqsood knew I was not happy with him. I felt totally helpless and I was very confused. Maqsood is inhumane, he has ruined my life. Now I have regained hope and even faith". Nadia's story is exemplary and follows a clichet that is repeated in many other cases, like that of Farah Hatim kidnapped and converted to Islam in 2011. Although her case was concluded with a statement (forced), made in court, in favor of the perpetrator (see Fides 20/7/2011) but some international NGOs reported the story to the United Nations (see Fides 22/8/2011). (PA) (Agenzia Fides 24/01/2012)