Poor and desperate Pakistani Hindus accept Islam to get by

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“Will they be converted with their heart and soul?” Ms. Ispahani said. ” I do not think so. “

The new economic devastation caused by the pandemic could trigger more sectarian violence, which could intensify pressure on minorities to convert, worry Ms Isfahani and others.

Murtaza Wahab, an adviser to the chief minister of Sindh, was among several government officials who said they could not respond to Ms. Ispahani’s accusation that Hindus received less aid after the floods, as happened before they took office.

“The Hindu community is an important part of our society and we believe that people of all faiths should live together without a problem,” Mr. Wahab said.

Forced conversions of Hindu girls and women to Islam through kidnappings and forced marriages are occurring across Pakistan. But Hindu rights groups are also troubled by the apparently voluntary conversions, saying they take place under such economic duress that they amount to a forced conversion anyway.

“Overall, religious minorities do not feel safe in Pakistan,” said Lal Chand Mahli, a Pakistani Hindu lawmaker from the ruling party, who is a member of a parliamentary committee tasked with protecting minorities from conversions. forced. “But the poor Hindus are the most vulnerable of them. They are extremely poor and illiterate, and mosques, charities, and Muslim traders easily exploit them and entice them to convert to Islam. There is a lot of money at stake. ”

Clerics like Muhammad Naeem were at the forefront of an effort to convert more Hindus. (Mr Naeem, 62, died of cardiac arrest two weeks after being questioned in June).

Mr Naeem said he has overseen more than 450 conversions over the past two years at Jamia Binoria, his seminar in Karachi. Most of the converts were lower caste Hindus from Sindh province, he said.

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