Christian persecution in Pakistan. From The Telegraph
A recent convert from Christianity to Islam, Bashir Masi knew nothing of his new faith.
He could not describe a single tenet of Islam, nor remember the Qalma, the Muslim declaration of faith, nor name his own children, who have adopted Muslim names.....The Masis were "invited" to convert by the local Muslim town mayor, Nazim Sahib as they call him, who doubles as the owner of the basic compound they had shared with their extended family.
No coercion there then.
Some 90 per cent of the 15 million Christians in Pakistan trace their ancestry to the "untouchable" Hindu Chuhra caste from Sialkot, where mass conversions began during the 19th century under British rule.
Mr Masi's ancestors probably converted to Christianity to improve their lot; now he is banking on another change of faith in the hope of transforming his family's fortunes.
However, Group Capt Cecil Chaudhry, Pakistan's self-appointed defender of the faith, contended that such conversions were not as innocent as depicted.
"It is more through fear that conversions have taken place. Our community is poor but it is not easy to break their faith," he said. "After all the recent attacks the community is living in fear."
Group Capt Chaudhry, twice decorated from Pakistan's wars against India, knows something of anti-Christian discrimination personally. He was passed over for promotion by the Islamist-favouring dictator General Zia-ul-Huq.
He now heads several organisations championing Christian rights and lobbies the government of President Pervez Musharraf to change legislation that is prejudiced against Christians.
Group Capt Chaudhry has also battled, with partial success, to do away with an electoral system that separates Muslim and Christian voters and candidates that means that Christians are never properly represented in a constituency.
In Pakistan, conversion is technically legal but those who do convert are dubbed "apostates" and often killed. Christian officials describe a large community of "secret Christians" made up of some government officials and prominent people who have converted to Christianity.
Group Captain Chaudhry.