A Pakistani couple has appealed a court decision to award custody of their two kidnapped daughters, 10 and 13, to the girl's kidnappers. The court based its 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' rights.
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.
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.
For the earlier story on these girls, go here.
Kidnapping Christians continues to be widespread in Pakistan. At least 16 were kidnapped in June.