A young Christian woman was shot dead in public after she rejected unwanted physical advances, a marriage proposal and invitation to convert to Islam by a Muslim man in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
The Muslim man, identified as Muhammad Shehzad, murdered the 24-year-old Christian woman, identified only as Sonia, a resident of Fazaia Colony in Rawalpindi area, on Nov. 11 but the incident was reported only on Sunday by Pakistan’s The Express Tribune newspaper.
Sonia was killed in public while she was returning from work at a garment factory.
The victim’s family has said the accused had been harassing Sonia for the last six months and had tried to force a physical relationship with her, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern, which said that Sonia refused these advances due to the difference in faith backgrounds.
As a “solution,” Shehzad proposed that Sonia should marry him and convert to Islam. Shehzad’s mother also met with Sonia’s family to negotiate an arranged marriage. But the family also refused the marriage.
“A few days before the incident, Sonia was again harassed by Shehzad,” Allah Rakha, Sonia’s father, told ICC. “Since she was a committed Christian she did not betray Jesus and sacrificed her life for her faith. We are being harassed and pressurized to withdraw the case against culprits. However, I want culprits brought to justice.”
Police have said a preliminary investigation suggests that the killing was carried due to personal resentment.
According to the Pakistani daily, another young Christian girl, Arzoo Raja, was reportedly abducted, forced to convert and marry a 44-year-old Muslim man in Karachi city in the province of Sindh.
A 2014 study by The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan estimated that about 1,000 women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian community were abducted, forcibly married to their captor, and forcibly converted to Islam every year.
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