Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute: Convert, Marry Me, or Die by Acid: Christian Women in Muslim Pakistan/تقرير موثق لريموند إبراهيم من موقع معهد كايتستون يحكي عذاب واضطهاد ومعاناة النساء المسيحيات في باكستان المسلمة

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تقرير موثق لريموند إبراهيم من موقع معهد كايتستون يحكي عذاب واضطهاد ومعاناة النساء المسيحيات في باكستان المسلمة
Convert, Marry Me, or Die by Acid: Christian Women in Muslim Pakistan
Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/March 20/2023

A Muslim man recently splashed acid onto the face of a teenage Christian girl, permanently disfiguring her. Her crime was to refuse his advances that she convert to Islam and marry him.

On her way to work on Feb. 1, 2023, Sunita Munawar, aged 19, stepped out of her bus. There, according to the report,

[S]he noticed that Kamran Allah Baksh, a local neighbour who had been stalking and harassing her for several years, was already waiting at the bus stop. Despite a sense of foreboding, Miss Munawar bravely exited the bus and headed towards her workplace. As she passed by Mr Baksh, without warning he threw something on Miss Munawar’s face. She could feel intense pain in her eyes and on the skin of her face, arms, torso and legs and knew immediately, that something was seriously wrong. She screamed and tried to wipe away the acid but found that the pain would not stop, a pain so severe that at some point Miss Munawar fainted and collapsed to the ground.

She was taken a nearby hospital, where it was confirmed that she had suffered 20 percent acid burns. From her hospital bed she said of her assailant: He wanted me to be his girlfriend but I refused his advances. I can’t believe what he has done to me, I did nothing to deserve this. It feels like he has destroyed my life. I have bright scars everywhere he sprayed the acid on me, it’s so hard to take.

Sunita’s uncle offered more background: He would try to force her to renounce her Christian faith, assuring her that he would marry her once she became a Muslim, but she refused to surrender to his illegitimate demands…. Sunita had informed her siblings about Kamran’s harassment, and they had repeatedly complained to his parents, urging them to stop him, but that did not work.

After being apprehended, Allah Baksh confessed to his crime. “In his statement,” authorities reported, “Kamran claimed that he had fallen in love with Sunita and had attacked her with acid in retaliation after she rejected his marriage proposal.”

Whatever punishment—if any—might be meted out to Baksh, the damage is irrevocable, said the girl’s uncle:
Sunita is just 19, but now her whole life has been physically and mentally scarred by Kamran. Even if he is convicted for his crime, will Sunita be able to live a normal life again? We all know how our society treats acid attack survivors, even though they are the victims of this heinous crime.

Sunita Munawar
Sunita’s case is, unfortunately, not isolated. In April, 2018, a Muslim man doused a Christian woman with acid and set her aflame in Pakistan. She too had earlier refused to convert to Islam and marry him. With burns covering nearly 90 percent of her body, Asma Yaqoob, 25, died five days later. According to her father, on that day, soon after Asma had answered the door, “we heard her screaming in pain.” They “rushed outside to see what had happened” and saw Rizwan Gujjar, 30, a onetime family friend, fleeing “while Asma was engulfed in flames.” Three months earlier Gujjar had begun pressuring Asma to marry him. She, “not wanting to recant her Christian faith,” politely declined and tried to avoid him, to no avail.

Acid attacks against women—especially minority women, chiefly Christians—are a common form of “retribution” for scorned Muslim men (as these many horrific images demonstrate).

In Karachi alone, where Sunita was disfigured, at least a dozen acid attacks have occurred in the last few months. According, moreover, to the “NGO the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), between 2007 and 2018 there were 1,485 reported cases of acid attacks in Pakistan. Close to a third of victims were children splashed with acid when family members were attacked. Most acid attackers are men, and the majority of victims are women.”

Discussing this shameful trend in the context of the most recent attack on Sunita, Juliet Chowdhry, of the British Asian Christian Association, said: Acid throwing attacks are extremely violent crimes. Perpetrators seek to inflict severe physical and mental suffering on their victims, the large majority of whom are women. In Pakistan, the most common reasons for such attacks are domestic violence, refusal of a marriage proposal, or the denial of a sexual advance. These attacks are vicious, pernicious and involve a high degree of premeditation. More responsive police could have prevented this attack when Sunita first reported stalking and harassment. Instead their inability to act, now means that Sunita will suffer years of disfigurement and treatments.

Not all acid attacks on Christian women are from spurned Muslim would-be suitors; some are motivated simply because the women are Christian.

In 2012, for example, Julie Aftab, a Christian woman who had fled her native Pakistan to America, recalled how Muslim men had permanently disfigured her when she was 16-years-old. After one of them entered her place of employment and noticed her wearing a cross around her neck, he “became abusive,” telling her “that she was living in the gutter and would go to hell for shunning Islam.” Then—and in keeping with the aforementioned charge that many acid attacks “involve a high degree of premeditation”—the man “left and returned half an hour later, clutching a bottle of battery acid which he savagely chucked over her head”: As she ran screaming for the door a second man grabbed her by the hair and forced more of the liquid down her throat, searing her esophagus. Teeth fell from her mouth as she desperately called for help, stumbling down the street. A woman heard her cries and took her to her home, pouring water over her head and taking her to hospital. At first the doctors refused to treat her, because she was a Christian. ‘They all turned against me… Even the people who took me to the hospital. They told the doctor they were going to set the hospital on fire if they treated me.’ … 67 per cent of her esophagus was burned and she was missing an eye and both eyelids. What remained of her teeth could be seen through a gaping hole where her cheek had been. The doctors predicted she would die any day. Despite the odds she pulled through.

While this article has focused on acid attacks on Christian women who resist Muslim advances, it should be noted that generic, though often more fatal, attacks for the same reason are even more commonplace.
In 2021, for example, the bloated bodies of two Christian sisters were found in a sewer. Two months earlier, the sisters, Sajida (28) and Abida (26), who were both married and had children, were reported as missing. According to their husbands, the two Muslim men for whom they worked had regularly pressured the sisters to convert to Islam and marry them. Even though the young women “made it clear that they were Christian and married, the men threatened them and kept harassing the sisters.”

After their decomposed bodies were discovered, their Muslim supervisors “confessed that they had abducted the sisters,” said Sadija’s husband: “and after keeping them hostage for a few days for satisfying their lust, had slit their throats and thrown their bodies into the drain.” The widower described the families’ ordeal:
When police informed us that they had identified the two bodies as those of our loved ones, it seemed that our entire world had come crumbling down…. I still cannot fathom the site [sic] of seeing my wife’s decomposed body.

Around the same time the two sisters went missing, two other Muslim men murdered another young Christian woman: Five months earlier, one of the murderers, Muhammad Shehzad, had started to harass Sonia Bibi, 24, to renounce her faith and marry him. She refused. Accordingly, Muhammad and an accomplice drove by her while she was walking to work and shot her dead. In the words of Sonia’s grieving father,

A few days before the incident, Sonia was again harassed by Shehzad. Since she was a committed Christian she did not betray Jesus and sacrificed her life for her faith.

Last reported, her father, who had at least hoped for justice, said: “We are being harassed and pressurized to withdraw the case against culprits.”

In yet another example, in June, 2021, a young Christian woman was beat and raped in her home, also for refusing to convert to Islam and marry her rapist. Neelam Masih said she was home alone when Faisal Basra “entered my home at gunpoint.”

[He] dragged me to my bedroom and began to punch and kick me. He threw me on the bed and started to rape me. He demanded I marry him and convert to Islam. I refused. I am not willing to deny Jesus and he said that if I would not agree he would kill me. He hit me on the face with his pistol and I shouted and screamed and tried to escape but he kept pulling me back, dragging me by my hair.

Eventually Neelam’s Christian neighbor heard her cries and came rushing to the house, prompting the rapist to flee.

Perhaps the following incident best captures how some Muslim men see Christian women in Pakistan. In January 2016, a group of Muslims in a car stalked and sexually harassed three Christian girls walking home from work. When the girls tried to run away, the Muslims chased them down in their car and ran them over, killing one of the girls, aged 17. After the Christian girls had refused their advances, and right before the chase began, the surviving girls had heard one of the Muslims mockingly say, “Christian girls are only meant for one thing, the [sexual] pleasure of Muslim men.”

And if they dare resist, they get splashed with acid if not outright murdered.

Incidentally, none of the above stories were reported on any mainstream media, with the exception of the American refugee, Julie Aftab—and even then, no mention was made that such attacks on Christian women, acid or otherwise, follow a pattern in Pakistan.

Perhaps this is something for all those “woke” elements that obsess over the “patriarchy” in America to think about.

Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West, Sword and Scimitar, Crucified Again, and The Al Qaeda Reader, is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Convert, Marry Me, or Die by Acid: Christian Women in Muslim Pakistan :: Gatestone Institute

Convert, Marry Me, or Die by Acid: Christian Women in Muslim Pakistan