Jubilee Campaign - Pakistan - Apostacy from Islam - May 2019
Converts of Muslim background face great difficulties in Pakistan because they cannot change religon officially, they face the risk of accusations of blasphemy, apostate women can hardly mary a non-Muslim, and relocation is very difficult in practice.
Pakistan’s government does not officially prohibit the renunciation of the Islamic faith. In practice, however, it is made difficult for Muslims to change their religion. NADRA does not entertain requests to change the religion of someone who is registered as a Muslim, making it impossible to officially leave Islam.
In addition, converts from Islam bear the risk that someone may accuse them of apostasy and thus blasphemy, a crime holding the death penalty. In addition, the notion is widespread in society that apostates should be killed. Converts risk at any moment being killed by family members or other radical Muslims. Saving the honor of the family plays a significant role in this regard.
Subsequently, there are no laws in Pakistan criminalizing inter-religious marriage. Islamic teaching however does not support marriages between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. Women who are officially registered as Muslim (but are practicing another religion) would encounter numerous difficulties if they would try to marry a non-Muslim man. Religious intolerance makes such marriages impossible.
It is difficult for converts to relocate. First, converts need enough financial means to start a new life somewhere else. Second, some Muslims have vast networks throughout the country and are able to easily find people in the whole of Pakistan. Consequently, the new community where the converts decides to settle should not find out that he or she is still officially a Muslim but practicing another faith. This, however, is very challenging in a country with close-knit communities. Therefore, generally, converts from Islam do not show the outside world that they left Islam.
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