The Sunday Times: Charles flies into mixed marriage storm


PRINCE CHARLES will fly into a bitter religious row today when he arrives in Pakistan to promote greater tolerance between Muslims and Christians

"enlightened moderation", and encourage a better understanding between the country`s Muslim majority and its beleaguered Christian minority. His itinerary will include meetings with the country`s senior Christian leader, Anglican Bishop Alexander John Malik, who is caught in the crossfire between leading members of his own flock and Islamic fundamentalists over the marriage of his daughter Nadia to the son of a prominent Muslim family. Nadia, one of Pakistan`s most glamorous models, and her husband Danyaal, a doctor, married in August in an opulent Lahore cathedral wedding led by her father, and attended by the country`s "Lollywood" film and fashion set. Bishop Malik`s critics claim his daughter had converted to Islam and married her husband in a traditional Muslim wedding before attending a Christian blessing ceremony. Rival bishops have called for his resignation and claimed he has betrayed his flock. Leading Muslim clerics say the church ceremony is an insult if Nadia had converted to Islam, and that her Muslim husband was wrong to agree to a Christian blessing. Last week Nadia denied she had converted, but agreed both families had struggled to accept an inter-faith marriage. She and her husband have since moved to Glasgow from where she told The Sunday Times she was relieved to be out of Pakistan. "We`ve been very lucky because we`ve managed to move away. Discrimination would have caught us if we`d continued to live in Pakistan. It happens to every mixed couple because both communities feel betrayed, especially the Christians because I`m the bishop`s daughter and I`ve married a Muslim," she said. She had resisted marrying her husband for almost five years because she would not give up her faith. "Danyaal`s family is very religious. It was difficult for them to come to terms with the match. It was difficult to get them to come to the church, it was a struggle from beginning to end. Both families made sacrifices for us. It was a very stressful wedding," she said. The Christian community`s sense of betrayal, she said, was linked to the persecution it has suffered in recent years, including a number of brutal attacks on churches. More than 30 Christian worshippers have been murdered in the past five years. Against this backdrop, rival bishops from the country`s Methodist and Presbyterian churches are outraged by Bishop Malik`s gesture. "Some Christian parents are crying over this precedent," said the spokesman for the Methodist Bishop Akbar Khokhar In an article in the Pakistan Christian Post, Presbyterian Bishop Timotheus Nasir argued that Bishop Malik should resign. "You have cheated and betrayed the flock of Christ. You have deceived the Christian community," he wrote. Islamic clerics were also angered by the marriage. Last week Mufti Asghar Ali Rabbani of the Farooqia College , a leading Islamic jurisprudence centre, said Nadia Malik was guilty of becoming an infidel if she had converted, and that her husband should not have taken part in the marriage ceremony in a Christian church. "She has become an infidel and the punishment for it is death," Rabbani declared. A spokesman for Prince Charles declined to comment on the Malik family`s troubles, but emphasised that the prince was respected in Pakistan for his long-standing support for understanding between the faiths.

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