Pakistan: Christian woman murdered for refusing to convert and marry

A MANHUNT is underway in Pakistan for a Muslim man accused of shooting and killing a Christian woman who refused to marry him and convert to Islam. Sonia Bibi, 24, was reportedly shot dead at the Fazaia Colony bus stop in Rawalpindi, close to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

Sonia Bubi (ACN-Sajid Christopher
Sonia Bubi (ACN-Sajid Christopher)

Police are searching for Muhammad Shehzad, a Muslim, who allegedly shot Miss Bibi multiple times in the head. The man’s alleged accomplice, known as Faizan, has been taken into custody following the incident on November 30th). Faizan is reported to have picked up Sonia on a motorcycle and taken her to meet Mr. Shehzad who then turned on the girl.

Sources close to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) say that, just days before her death, Ms. Bibi and her family had rejected Mr. Shehzad’s marriage proposal. Ms. Bibi was a domestic cleaner and there is concern for the welfare of her family for whom she was the main breadwinner.

As well as her parents, Ms. Bibi leaves behind four younger siblings—three sisters and a brother. The incident comes amid growing concerns about the safety of Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan, such as Maira Shahbaz, who has received death threats after escaping from a Muslim man who forced her to marry him and convert to Islam.

Edward Clancy, director of outreach for ACNUSA, expressed shock at the killing. He said: “We extend our deepest condolences to her parents who have tragically lost Sonia, their eldest daughter. Sonia’s killing demonstrates the mortal danger girls and young women—especially those from Christian and other minority backgrounds—face in situations where they are under pressure to marry and abandon their faith. It is urgent that action is taken to ensure the safety of these young people. We call upon those in authority in Pakistan and our own Government to act now. Otherwise there will only be more tragic cases such as this.”

Lahore-based human rights activist Sajid Christopher, who is part of the Human Friends Organization in Pakistan, told ACN: “The killing of Sonia Bibi is a terrible and horrific act. She was killed for declining the offer to convert and marry. I strongly condemn this act. My deepest condolences for the family of this innocent victim.”

—John Pontifex