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Forced conversion to Islam fatal for Christian boy

Outrage at the death of a Catholic boy forced to convert to Islam at the hands of abductors has prompted the Pakistan Catholic Bishops Justice and Peace Commission to take up his case.

The Christian youth died of injuries inflicted by a teacher and students at an Islamic school. The National Commission for Justice and Peace declared last week that the incident reflects a worrying trend of forced conversions.

Javed Anjum, an 18-year-old commerce student was seized by a teacher and students of Jamia Hassan bin Almurtaza Madrasa (an Islamic religious school) on 17 April when he stopped for a drink of water at a nearby tap in Toba Tek Singh, 310 kilometres south of Islamabad.

For five days he was tortured until his condition became so serious that the abusers took him to a police station, stating that he had been attempting to steal an electric water pump, and filed a charge of robbery against him.

The boy was kept in police custody until April 24th, when he was finally taken for medical treatment. By that time, according to the Bishop's Commission investigation, it was too late to save him. Anjum died on 2 May in a nearby hospital, of "renal failure".

According to the Bishops Commission, police refused to investigate the cause of his injuries, or the allegation against him. Commission Chairman Peter Jacob said that officials at the Islamic school tried to create an impression that Anjum was a drug addict. Local Muslim political are backing their version.

Mr Jacob said: "It only shows how desperate and aware the perpetrators are of their crime and what they had done, that they tried through various allegations to cover it up."

Forced conversion to Islam fatal for Christian boy ( 10/5/04)

Church Condemns Torture, Death Of Christian Youth In Forced-Conversion Case (Union of Catholic Asian News 10/5/04 - registration required)

11 May 2004