Sindh caves in to religious parties threats over conversions

sindh-cavesKarachi, (IANS) Succumbing to the pressure exerted by religious parties, which threatened to launch a protest movement and lay siege to the provincial assembly building, the Sindh government has announced that it would amend its recently passed law against forced conversions.

The bill passed in the last week of November was for the protection of minorities and especially to do away with its provision that a person must be 18 years old to change religion.

The Sindh Assembly unanimously passed into law the Sindh Criminal Law (Protection of Minorities) Bill 2015 – a private bill moved by an opposition lawmaker of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional Nand Kumar.

The newly-passed law evoked the ire of religious parties, which termed its provisions against the fundamental spirit and tenets of Islam.

The religious parties were of the view that the new law would make it difficult for members of religious minorities to adopt Islam.

They particularly criticised the provision of the law which prescribed the age of 18 as the minimum age for any person to change their religion.

The leaders of these religious parties demanded that the Sindh government should immediately repeal the law and in future refer all such legislation to the Council of Islamic Ideology for vetting so that they were amended in accordance with what they believed were the teachings of Islam.

Provincial parliamentary affairs minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said in a statement issued on Friday that the Sindh government had decided to amend the law.

Khuhro said the Sindh Assembly had only declared unlawful the act of contracting marriage below the age of 18 and for this purpose a law had been passed.

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