Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – To escape to save two Christian girls from being converted to Islam: this is the tragic solution adopted by Nadeem Maqbol (45 years old) and by his wife, Nabeela Nadeem, a Christian couple from Lahore.
Their story, sent to Fides by Catholics involved in the “Justice and Peace” Commission of the local church, is exemplary for the widespread conversion of girls and Christian girls. The two have a son (Ngam, 14 years old) and two daughters Noor-e-Sahar (12 years old) and Nisha (8 years old).
For 14 years, Nadeem Maqbol’s family had been living in the district of Khanewal, in Lahore. Nabeela taught in a school run by the Salvation Army, while Nadeem ran a small shop. The three children studied in a public school. In public schools Islamic studies are mandatory and the girls had to learn and recite some verses of the Quran in the presence of other teachers and students.
In December, 2013, an Islamic cleric, the father of a student stated that these girls had become Muslims: therefore they had to be entrusted to the care of adult Muslims. Nadeem stopped sending his daughters to school. After a few days, the headmaster and other Muslim teachers had warned the parents to send them back to school, offering the family financial aid regarding the school fees.
Nadeem and Nabeela found themselves in a critical situation. The South of Punjab is in fact an area characterized by religious intolerance and extremism. Often one hears cases of Christian girls kidnapped, converted to Islam and never returned to the families of origin. Hence the painful decision to flee. Nabeela has resigned from her school, where she had a secure job and was well paid, and Nadeem closed his shop. They moved to Yohanaabad.
Fortunately Nabeela has begun working in a school run by the “Church of Pakistan” (Anglican). Nadeem is looking for a job in the city.
According to Fides sources, many Christian families, who find themselves in the same situation, have chosen to flee to save their girls.
Many families of Christian and Hindu religious minorities in South Punjab live under threat and blackmail. (KA-PA) (Agenzia Fides 11/09/2014)