BosNewsLife - Christian News Agency

Asim Pasha, a Christian resident of the city of Attock, reportedly married Samina in 2004, despite objections from her parents. "Samina’s Muslim parents opposed the marriage due to Pasha’s Christian faith. That's why the couple fled the city and remained in hiding to protect themselves from Samina’s parents," said US-based rights group International Christian Concern (ICC) with Website www.persecution.org

The couple apparently returned to Attock in 2007 with a child and Pasha started a music business in his neighborhood. Soon after, local Muslim clerics reportedly claimed that Pasha had turned to Islam only to eventually force Samina to convert to Christianity.

They said he had "cheated a Muslim girl and made fun of Islam,” and therefore “must be hanged publicly," ICC reported.

CHARGES DENIED

Pasha has denied their charges. He has asked authorities to protect him and a human rights organization is providing him with a hiding place, ICC said. "Pasha is ready for exile along with his wife and child. He said he wants to live happily with his family without fear of disputes. This is not currently possible for him as the local police have refused to register a case against the clerics" or a news paper who made false allegations about him, ICC added.

News of Pasha's troubles, come as a Pakistani couple has appealed a court decision to award custody of their two daughters, 10 and 13, to the children’s alleged kidnappers. The court based its custody decision on the girls’ alleged conversion to Islam. Judge Main Naeem Sardar ruled Saturday, July 12, that Saba Masih, 13, and Aneela Masih, 10, had become Muslims, invalidating their Christian parents’ right to legal guardianship.

Under a common interpretation of Islamic law, a Christian cannot have custody of a Muslim. The sisters appeared in a Muzaffargarh District and Sessions court in the company of 16 Muslim men and were given five minutes to testify that their conversion was genuine, human rights activist Ashfaq Fateh told reporters.

FIRST TIME

It was the first time that Younis Masih and his wife had seen their daughters since they disappeared on June 26 while traveling to their uncle’s nearby home in Sarwar Shaheed, 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Lahore, trial observers said.

The chairman of advocacy group Rays Of Development (ROD, Ferhan Mazher, told BosNewsLife that the reported kidnapping underscored the need of police and government officials to "take notice of the lamentable episode and rescue the girls from the hard line Islamic elements," who he claimed could eventually even “kill the Christian girls.”

Several politicians have made clear this week they hope that the new government's efforts to allocate five seats to minorities in Pakistan's Senate will help to out the difficulties of religious minorities, including Christians, on the political agenda in this mainly Muslim nation.

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