Friday, June 17, 2016
The conversion to Islam of a 14-year-old girl from Kalasha community, Pakistan’s smallest religious minority, has sparked clashes between majority Muslims and a few thousand remaining members of the animist tribe.
Nestled in the picturesque Chitral valley, the Kalasha people, who follow an ancient animistic religion and number only around 3,000, had claimed that the teenage girl was lured to convert to Islam.
However, a district official on Friday said that the girl has recorded her statement before the court that she converted out of her own free will.
On Thursday, clashes were reported between Muslims and the Kalasha people after the girl returned back to her family amid reports that she was lured and coerced to convert to Islam.
According to eye witnesses, a mob of few hundred Muslim men attacked a house in the Kalash tribe’s valley of Bumburate in the northern district of Chitral after the girl returned and police had to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Chitral Deputy Commissioner Usama Waraich said that the situation was now under control and the issue has been resolved as both local Muslims and Kalasha people have agreed to respect the girl’s decision.
However, some elders of the Kalasha community still claim that the girl was forcefully converted and demand an impartial probe into the matter.