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Pakistan: 13-year-old Christian girl kidnapped, converted to Islam, forced to marry her abductor

Forced conversion in Pakistan becomes ever more common. Most of the victims and their families charge that Pakistani authorities frequently refuse to help the victims, and even side with the kidnappers, as we see in this case involving a 13-year-old girl. Note also that a bill against forced conversions has stalled in the Sindh Provincial Assembly due to opposition from Islamic religious parties. With Pakistan’s political officials against such measures, they have little hope of becoming law, or of being enforced if they do become law.

Pakistan’s small and courageous Orthodox Christian community is as vulnerable to this persecution as are the rest of Pakistan’s Christians. The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, once again implores international human rights organizations to take action to protect Christian families in Pakistan.

For previous coverage of forced conversions and the persecution of Christians in Pakistan in general, see here.

“Pakistan teen’s abduction, conversion sparks Christian outcry,” UCA News, October 19, 2020:

A teenage Christian girl was kidnapped and forced to marry her Muslim abductor in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, her family says.

A local Muslim man is accused of abducting 13-year-old Arzoo Masih while she was playing outside her home in Karachi’s St. Anthony’s Parish. The Catholic girl is the youngest of four children in her family.

Arzoo’s mother, Rita Masih, said she and her husband were at work on Oct. 13 when they received a phone call from a close relative that Arzoo had gone missing.

The family immediately filed a kidnapping complaint with the police. The crime is punishable by death or lengthy imprisonment in Pakistan.

However, on Oct. 15, the police summoned the family to the station where they were given marriage papers which claimed Arzoo was 18 and had willingly converted to Islam after marrying Ali Azhar, a local Muslim….

Shabbir Shafqat, president of the National Christian Party, has condemned the conversion and forced marriage of a minor girl.

“Forced conversion has become a major tool for the persecution of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan. We must make a united stand against Arzoo’s abduction,” he added.

In March this year, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, called on the Sindh provincial government to make the forced conversion of minority girls illegal.

Forced conversions “are too easily and too often disguised as voluntary conversions, leaving minor girls especially vulnerable,” the commission said on March 22 after the forced conversion of two Hindu girls. 

“The ugly reality of forced conversions is that they are not seen as a crime, much less as a problem that should concern ‘mainstream’ [Muslim] Pakistan,” the commission said.

A bill against forced conversions introduced in 2016 in the Sindh Provincial Assembly has not been passed yet, the commission said, adding the Sindh government had bowed to pressure from Islamic religious parties which had objected to the bill….

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