Descendants of Alexander the Great's Army in Pakistan Pressured to Convert to Islam [PHOTOS]

on October 22 2011 6:18 AM

The Kalash community -- primarily residing in the Bumboret Kalash valley of northwestern Pakistan and said to be descendants of Alexander the Great's army -- says it is under increasing pressure to convert to Islam.

About 3,500 in number, the Kalash are fair-skinned, light-eyed people who claim to be descendants of the army Alexander III of Macedon led through the region on its way to invade India in the fourth century B.C.

The community brews its own wine, and Kalash women are not veiled. They wear distinctive homemade colorful dresses with their heads dressed, but not covered.

The Kalash are known for their distinctive dress, architecture, and vibrant religious festivals. They are also polytheists.

In recent months, however, there have been incidents of forceful conversions by Muslim groups.

Pook Shireen, a Kalash community member in his 20s, found he was converted to Islam when he fell unconscious during a car accident, Reuters reported.

Local people say some Muslims read verses from the Koran and encouraged the Kalash people to read the Muslim holy book so that they would convert to Islam.

A regional government representative said the Pakistan government intended to protect the minority group and provide them with a better water supply, as well as better roads, schools, and community centers.

The region below the snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush inhabited by the Kalash is attractive to tourists because of its lush green scenic beauty and the presence of the indigenous people.

Pakistan's Kalash Under Pressure

Easter Bibi, 22, a member of the Kalash community, sits outside her house in Krakal village, located in the Bumboret Kalash valley, on Oct. 11. REUTERS

Pakistan's Kalash Under Pressure

Kalash female students walk to class through the entrance of the Kalasha Dur and community center in Brun village, located in Bumboret Kalash valley, on Oct. 14. REUTERS

Pakistan's Kalash Under Pressure

Teacher Noorzia Khan, 16, writes letters from the Kalasha alphabet on a blackboard during a lesson at the Kalasha Dur school and community center in Brun village, located in the Bumboret Kalash valley, on Oct. 13. REUTERS

Pakistan's Kalash Under Pressure

Kalash students walk to class through the entrance of the Kalasha Dur and community center in Brun village, located in Bumboret Kalash valley, on Oct. 14. REUTERS

Pakistan's Kalash Under Pressure

Sipai Gul, 40, holds a broom as children play in a street in Krakal village, located in Bumboret Kalash valley, on Oct. 14. REUTERS

Pakistan's Kalash Under Pressure

Kalash students attend a class at the Kalasha Dur school and community center in Brun village, located in Bumboret Kalash valley, on Oct. 13. REUTERS

Pakistan's Kalash Under Pressure

Girls from the Kalash community wash clothes in a river in the Rumbur Kalash valley on Oct. 12. REUTERS

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