A Christian woman in Pakistan died on Sunday night after being set on fire. According to Christian Headlines, 25-year-old Asma Yaqoob was set on fire by a Muslim in the Sialkot area of Pakistan for refusing to convert to Islam from Christianity.
The incident resulted in 80% of the young woman's body being covered in burns. She and her father were at the house where she worked when the attack took place.
“We were sitting in a room when there was a knock on the front gate,” said Asma's father. “Asma went out to see who had come, when after some time we heard her screaming in pain. ... I rushed outside to see what had happened and saw the accused Rizwan Gujjar [the killer] fleeing from the scene while Asma was engulfed in flames.”
Gujjar, the alleged killer, had been pressuring Asma to marry him for some time, although she had repeatedly turned him down because she wanted to marry somebody who wouldn't force her to leave the Christian faith that she held dear to.
Asma's mother claimed that her daughter had complained privately that Gujjar insisted that she convert to Islam upon marrying him, but she had refused. She not only didn't want to marry him, but she especially didn't want to marry him and leave her Christian faith.
According to her mother, “Asma told us that on the night of the attack, Gujjar had come to Zaman’s house and told her that she has no other choice but to renounce her faith and marry him in court the next morning,” Akhtar said. “My daughter refused, upon which he emptied a bottle of petrol on her body and set her alight.”
Christian Headlines writes that poor Christian women in Pakistan are often forced to marry Muslim men.
“My daughter is a staunch Protestant Christian and had been resisting Gujjar’s pressure for a long time,” Asma's mother said, according to Christian Headlines. “She was not interested in him and had repeatedly complained about his misbehavior. When all efforts failed to convince Asma to cave in to his demand, Gujjar attempted to kill her.”
Much of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan comes from radical Islamic groups that flourish under the favor of political parties, the army, education system, and the government, according to Open Doors USA.
Although long-standing historic churches have relative freedom in worship and religious activities, they are still heavily monitored and regularly targeted for bomb attacks. Churches that are engaged in outreach to youth often suffer from intense discrimination.
In smaller townships and villages, Christian parents are often forced to send their children to the local madrassa for Islamic education, where children are often pressured to convert to Islam at a very early age.
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