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Pakistan court validates marriage of abducted Catholic girl

Rita Masih cried for her daughter with open hands pleading outside a courthouse in Karachi.

“Arzoo, come to your mama. He will kill you. My daughter is sitting in the front,” she cried before fainting to the ground. Her relatives placed her on a marble bench under a tree and poured water in her mouth. “This is blind law. The drug addict will sell her,” said her husband.

Pastor Ghazala Shafique filmed the protest at the High Court of Sindh province on Facebook Live on Oct. 27 as the family pleaded with police and rangers to meet the sixth grader. The video was viewed by more than 3,000 people within a few hours.

In a major setback to church groups, the court validated the marriage of the Catholic minor to her Muslim abductor. Meeting her mother later in the court, Arzoo Raja confessed that she had recited Kalma, the Islamic proclamation of faith. She was escorted with the Muslim family under police custody. Her next hearing is on Nov. 11.

Arzoo was kidnapped while playing in a street in front of her home on Oct. 13. However, on Oct. 15, the police summoned the family to the station where they were given marriage papers which claimed she was 18 and had willingly converted to Islam after marrying 44-year-old Ali Azhar. According to church and government documents, Arzoo is 13.

Read more at UCA News

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