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Christians Protest in Pakistan Over Alleged Abduction & Marriage of Teenage Girl to Muslim Man

There have been multiple reports of forced conversions to Islam, vandalism of places of worship, and rapes in Pakistan. An estimated 1,000 Hindu and Christian women are forced to convert and marry Muslim men every year in the country, according to a report by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan.

Arzoo Raja Masih, a 13-year-old Catholic girl from Pakistan’s Karachi, has allegedly been kidnapped, converted to Islam, and married to a 44-year-old man, Ali Azhar.

The Christian community, along with women and minority rights group, have been staging protests since the Sindh High Court validated the marriage on 27 October and did not make any arrests in the case.

The girl was last seen playing near her home on 13 October before she went missing. Arzoo’s family lodged a police complaint against Ali Azhar for kidnapping and marrying the girl and filed a petition in a local court.

The court granted custody of the girl to her alleged abductor, ruling that she had married Azhar out of her own "free will".

Videos on social media show her family pleading to meet her daughter in court during the hearing. The mother said she had not been allowed to see her daughter by Azhar's family.

"Let the mother meet, please. Come to mumma Arzoo", the crying mother can be heard saying in the footage.

A campaign for justice for Arzoo has been gaining momentum on social media, with several netizens calling for the government after repeated cases of conversion and biased handling of cases by courts.

​According to Pakistani government statistics, minorities make up around 3.72 percent of the country's overwhelmingly Muslim population. This includes 1.6 percent Christians. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) recently released a report highlighting the suffering of minorities due to forced conversions to Islam

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