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2013-03-18

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Blasphemy and forced conversion: two young Christians rescued

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - The Christian teenager Ryan Stanton, victim of false accusations of blasphemy, was rescued and taken abroad with his family. A Christian girl, Rafia Mansha, 14, kidnapped by a Muslim and forced into an Islamic marriage and conversion, got justice from a court, which declared the marriage "false, illegal and void." The two cases reported to Fides Agency by the Christian community in Pakistan, again points its attention to the precarious condition that the Christian minorities in the country live.
The 15 year old Ryan Stanton (also identified in the community as Brian Ryan Patras) was accused of having sent a blasphemous text message to some Muslim peers regarding the Prophet Muhammad. For this reason, in October 2012, his home in the suburb of Gulshan-i-Iqbal, a bourgeois area of Karachi, a metropolis in the south of Pakistan, was looted and set on fire by Muslim radicals (see Fides 12/10/2012 ). The boy and his family escaped by a miracle and lived several months in hiding. Now the NGO "Rescue Christians" managed to transfer Ryan and all his family abroad, where he will begin a new life. The boy explained that some of his Muslim peers used his cell phone, sent the blasphemous text message in order to incriminate him.
In another case, Rafia Mansha, a Christian girl, was abducted in December 2012 by two Muslims and then forced into a Muslim marriage to Imran and conversion. The family turned to the NGO LEAD ("Legal Evangelical Association Development") which filed an appeal to the court of Pattoki. Rafia testified in court that she had been kidnapped and suffered marriage and forced conversion. Despite opposition from the Muslim counterpart, the Court declared the nullity of the marriage and returned Rafia to her family. Rafia’s family also filed a complaint for "kidnapping", demanding that the guilty are to be punished. A Fides source notes that "this case should serve as an example." In Pakistan, in fact, in recent years there have been about 1,000 cases a year of Christian and Hindu girls kidnapped by Muslims, forced marriage and conversion. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 18/03/2013)

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