Following reports from CLAAS, two Christian brothers, Azam and Nadeem Masih from Kharota Syedan, Sialkot, Punjab, faced the horror of forced conversion to Islam under severe duress. On January 22, 2024, they were reportedly abducted by two Muslim men, Qaseem Shah and Sunny Shah, and taken to an undisclosed location in Kharota Syedan. There, they were subjected to brutal torture.
The chilling details of the incident came to light after a First Information Report (FIR) was registered at the Kotli Loharan Police Station in Sialkot. Azam Masih recounted in the FIR how Qaseem Shah forcibly took him to Sunny Shah’s residence, where both assailants brutally assaulted him with iron rods. The motive behind this ruthless act, as stated by the assailants, was to force a conversion to Islam under the threat of death. Nadeem Masih, Azam’s brother, was also brought to the same location and subjected to similar barbaric treatment.
According to Azam Masih’s statement in the FIR, the conversion was not a matter of free will but a desperate measure to save their lives, Following their coerced conversion, the brothers were released but were threatened with death if they dared to disclose the incident to anyone.
Post the ordeal, both brothers were provided medical treatment at the civil hospital in Sialkot. The police, acknowledging the gravity and sensitivity of the matter, have ensured a thorough investigation into the incident. Both perpetrators are currently in police custody, a rare instance of legal action in such cases that are often overlooked by law enforcement agencies in Pakistan.
This incident has sparked fear and outrage within the local Christian community. The brothers, now fearing for their lives, have gone into hiding, but they continue to seek justice.
Nasir Saeed, Director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS-UK) expressed grave concern over the incident. He noted that this case should be properly investigated, and the culprits brought to justice. Saeed remarked that the registration of this FIR is significant, as it establishes that forced conversion is an ongoing issue in Pakistan, contradicting the government’s claims that such incidents are mere propaganda by NGOs.
Saeed stressed the importance of the government taking this case seriously and not treating it as a routine crime. He expressed fears that the government might ignore the incident, or influential local figures might interfere, pressuring the victims into a settlement with the perpetrators, thus denying them justice. Saeed called for the case to be used as a catalyst for legislative change and the implementation of measures to prevent forced conversions at all levels in Pakistan.
This case highlights the urgent need for systemic change in Pakistan to protect minority rights and prevent such atrocities. The incident underscores the Pakistani government’s responsibility to protect its citizens from religious persecution and uphold their fundamental rights. The forced conversion of Azam and Nadeem Masih is not just a violation of their personal freedom but a blatant disregard for the principles of religious tolerance and human rights. This incident is a grim reminder of the challenges religious minorities face in Pakistan and a call to action for both the national government and the international community to ensure that such human rights violations do not go unnoticed.
For more information about Christians persecution in Pakistan, contact Nasir Saeed: firstname.lastname@example.org
T: 02081506763 W: www.claas.org.uk
Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is an interdenominational organisation working for Christians who are being persecuted because of their faith in Pakistan. CLAAS works for religious freedom, to stop persecution of Christians in Pakistan because of blasphemy and other discriminatory laws, raise awareness, disseminate information and highlight the plight of Christians on an international level. CLAAS provides free legal aid to victims of religious intolerance in Pakistan, as well as shelter and financial support for the victims and their families.