Forced conversion bill 'against Islam, constitution': JUI

Forced conversion bill 'against Islam, constitution': JUI

Sindh assembly on last Thursday had reportedly passed the Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Bill, 2015 which was proposed by the PML (Functional) Nand Kumar Goklani.

The bill, adopted on November 23, is called the Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Bill, 2015 and recommends a five-year prison term for perpetrators, whereas facilitators of forced religious conversions will be handed a three-year sentence.

The bill states that no person shall be deemed to have changed their religion until they attain the age of maturity, which is 18 years. In Sindh, the age at which someone can be legally married is also 18 because before that, an individual is considered a child. "After this law, conversions before the age of 18 will be considered a crime", Kumar said.

Members of the civil society said incidences of forced conversions were increasing across the country, particularly in Sindh, and that the bill in question will go a long way in helping the minorities in Pakistan.

"Conversion is a basic right as marriage is, but just like forced marriage, forced conversions are also a violation of human rights, and is against the teachings of Islam as well", said Krishan Sharma, Chairman of the REAT Network Pakistan (Rights of Expression, Assembly, Association and Thought Network).

The two larger religious political parties, the JI and the Jamiat Ulema Islam-F, are opposing the new law recently enacted in Sindh, claiming the law is part of a conspiracy to make Pakistan a liberal and secular country. Notably incidents of forced conversions had always been hunting the minority Hindu and Sikh communities of Pakistan whose girls are often abducted and forcibly converted to Islam.

Meanwhile, Maulana Samiul Haq called for the dismissal of the Sindh Assembly over the passage of a bill against forced conversions.

"The Sindh government is converting the province into Kafiristan with such un-Islamic decisions", he said demanding imposition of governors rule in Sindh, adding Islam does not allow forced conversions.