Dear Pakistan and India, stop trying to convert your minorities

Published: May 8, 2017
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So, it is not only in Pakistan that forced conversions take place.

My attention was recently drawn to a news story according to which non-Muslim employees of Mian Mir hospital in Lahore are forced to recite verses from the Holy Quran daily at the morning assembly. The news further stated that those who refused to do so were penalised by being marked absent for the day (and thereby losing a day’s wages).

If true, this is indeed shocking news. Once a non-Muslim says the words of the Kalima, he or she automatically is converted to Islam, and cannot go back to his or her original religion. It goes without saying that such men or women cannot continue living with their spouses or their parents. If they do, they are in danger of being labelled apostates and risk being lynched by infuriated mobs. Therefore, the hospital administration is violating the Constitution which guarantees religious freedom to the citizens.

I was reminded of the Christian school which I attended, where every morning and after every break the Catholic boys would recite the Lord’s Prayer, while non-Christian students would stand and merely listen. Of course, there was no attempt by the teachers to force the non-Christian boys to recite the words of the prayer, but some boys did so out of ignorance. Despite that, we used to feel very uncomfortable during the recitals, so I can understand how the non-Muslim staff of the Lahore Mian Mir hospital felt when they were forced to recite Quranic verses. Naturally, they protested and brought the matter to the attention of the authorities.

Some Indian relatives of mine visited Karachi recently and said that their children are being compelled to recite verses of Vande Matram, which is sung in praise of a Hindu goddess. They are also compelled to read the Ramayan, which is about Hindu gods and goddesses. The helpless Indian Muslim children have no choice but to submit, considering the highly charged atmosphere in today’s India, where there is a movement to declare India as a Hindu state, making Muslims and other minorities second-class citizens.

Recently, the government tried to pass a law making forced conversions a crime, but the religious lobby successfully resisted and the law has been shelved, and it is doubtful if it will ever be passed. Sometimes, Hindu and Christian women are kidnapped or raped and then forced to marry their rapists or abductors. There is a popular misconception in Pakistan that the population of women is greater than that of men. This is not true. According to available data, the male-female ratio in the country is 1.06, meaning that there are 106 men for 100 women in Pakistan (those clerics who advise Muslims to practice polygamy are apparently not aware of this fact). Perhaps it is due to the lesser number of women in Pakistan that non-Muslim women are kidnapped and forced to marry Muslim men.

But the situation is worse in India, where the movement called “ghar wapsi” (returning home) has been launched to convert all Indian Muslims and Christians to Hinduism by 2021 (four years from today). There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Indian Muslims are either being killed or converted en masse. Between 1991 and 2001, the number of Muslims in India increased by 45% over 10 years, but in the next decade, it only grew at 25%, as a result of which the Indian Muslim population in 2011 was only 172 million (it should have been 200 million if the growth rate had remained at 45%).

So, it is not only in Pakistan that forced conversions take place. But that doesn’t mean we should not take action to stop people like the Mian Mir Hospital administrator who are forcing non-Muslims to convert against their will. The government should take action to prevent this obnoxious practice from taking place.

Shakir Lakhani

Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (twitter.com/shakirlakhani)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Test Test

    Absolute nonsense. Indian muslims are the fastest growing group in India and their growth rate is double the Hindu growth rate. Muslims in India have grown every decade and are now close to 14% from less 7% in the 1970s. So if someone says, muslims are being persecuted in India, its hilarious. Compare that with Pakistan where Hindus and Christians as a % of population is reducing year over year. Dont even compare and dont give false statistics.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Christianity and Islam are not Dharma or way of life. They are tools of imperialists to enslave natives by dividing them. Native converts are made to lose their roots – culture, language, ancestral history. These native converts to Christianity and Islam side with the imperialist brutes who rape, kill and loot Indians. When India becomes completely Dharmic (Hindu, Jain, Boudh & Sikh) then it will progress immensely and peace will prevail within and outside of it. Otherwise India will become IS land like AfPak or at best utterly depressed South & Central America. Vande Mataram is merely saying that the native soil, water air which nourishes you is divine and so respect it.Recommend

  • 19640909rk .

    “Ghar Wapsi”? You must be joking. Muslims are in no danger of being converted in India. Grow up.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well,…what is your real hindu name?Recommend

  • Scrutator

    Hindu population declined from being 85% to only 80%, does that mean that Hindus in India were killed off by non-Hindus???Recommend

  • Scrutator

    Do you publish any comments at all?Recommend

  • pramod_mb

    Madam, You need to point out where the population of Muslims has fallen. It has not gone down in India (infact the rate has increased) and It has definitely not gone down in Pakistan. So what are you talking about?Recommend

  • Patwari

    Use an alarm clock to wake
    you up in time for the toilet line. Recommend

  • Scrutator

    He’s basing his entire view of India through the story he heard from one relative of his!!!

    Indian national anthem (Jana gana mana) was written in praise of King George – and it was adopted to refer to the words to be praising the country and not King George!!!
    Vande Matram is the national ‘song’ from which specific references to Hindu goddess were deleted to make it sound solely in praise of the motherland and nothing else!!!

    Just because Muslim population increased at the rate of 25% instead of 45% does not mean that muslims were getting killed en masse. IT’S 1.2% – muslim population growth is 2000% more than the regular population growth.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    The Hindu goddess is either Laxmi or Durga, I’ll have to get the name from my Indian relatives. The Ramayan is compulsory reading in their schools. According to census reports from 1951 to 2011, number of Muslims in India should be at least 250-300 million (I’m researching on this). The percentage of Hindus (and other minorities) in Pakistan (excluding Bangladesh) has remained practically constant.Recommend

  • rationalist

    Just some facts:
    – Pakistani minority population shrank from a figure of 27% in the 1950’s to the current figure of 4%
    – Indian Muslim population increased from ~10% after partition to the current figure of 16%.
    -There are hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis illegal immigrants in India.

    -No Indian Muslim is trying to enter Pakistan as illegal immigrants escaping “discrimination or conversion”.Recommend

  • Rahul

    The whole of subcontinent is a pathetic cesspool of liars and cheats who cannot think beyond caste and religious lines. Critical thinking and meritocracy, which build the foundation of any prosperous and progressive society, are concepts virtually unknown and unheard of. No wonder we lament why other nations progress while we continue to lag behind.Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    You still didnt reply which Goddess, which school forces Ramayan !Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    Also by your same logic and projection please tell How Hindu Population should be at present and how much actually it is !Recommend

  • Anwar Ali

    `Bande Mataram’ is a not Holy Book text. It is a Bengali-Sanskrit lyrical song written by Bankim Chandra Chattergee in his famous Novel ` Anadamath’ based on Hindu Nationalistic Movement. So, to say if someone reads it he or she is being converted will not be justifiable.Recommend