Tuesday, August 4, the Lahore High Court ruled Maira Shahbaz willingly converted to Islam and married Mohamad Nakash. Got it? There was a willing conversion. There was mutual consent to a marriage. Was there?
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Shahbaz and her family claim she is the victim of a kidnapping. The marriage was by force and against her will. They assert that Mr. Nakash came with two accomplices to kidnap her near her home in the city of Faisalabad, the 3rd most populous city in the country.
Mr. Nakash who already has a wife attempted to defend himself by saying Shahbaz is 19 years old but the girl and her family were able to show both a birth certificate and school records. She is actually 14 years old.
After providing evidence of her age to the local Faisalabad District and Sessions court, the courts ruled she be removed from Nakash’s home. Ms. Shahbaz was placed in a women’s shelter pending further investigation.
On Tuesday Judge Raja Muhammad Shahid Abbasi at the Lahore High Court overturned the local courts’ ruling. Judge Raja Muhammad Shahid Abbasi said she had embraced Islam. The ruling has sparked outrage. Given the age of the child and the manner of the taking, it highlights the differences of religious belief and law.
And then we get the rest of the story…
After the ruling, Maira and her mother Nighat were visibly distraught. They were in tears. They are declining to make any comments to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic charity covering the case. Pakistani Christian advocate and friend of the family Lala Robin Daniel said “with this ruling, no Christian girl in Pakistan is safe.”
Shahbaz’s lawyer, Khalil Tahir Sandhu, claimed 150 of Nakash’s ‘associates’ came to court on the day of the ruling. “It is unbelievable. What we have seen today is an Islamic judgment. The arguments we put forwards were very strong and coherent.”
In court, Sandhu says he had 11 points proving Maira’s case. The cornerstone of the case is a birth certificate proving she was only 13 last October. That is the date of the “alleged” marriage. He also argues the ‘marriage certificate’ was a fake. He was able to give evidence denouncing the credibility of the Muslim ‘cleric’ signing it. Sandhu cites Pakistani law saying Maira cannot convert to Islam without her mother’s permission.
Sandhu adds, “I became so upset as the proceedings went on, I feared I might be asked to leave the courtroom.” He said he will appeal the decision. First, the appeal is at the Lahore High Court. If that fails the matter moves to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
If the shariah appeal fails, Maira will remain forcibly ‘married’ to Nakash. She will be given back to her abductor. Do you still think Christianity and Islam are basically the same? Is the treatment you desire for your daughter?