Karachi: Islamic declaration of 13-year-old Arzoo, 'brainwashing' (VIDEO)
by Shafique Khokhar

In some videos released in recent days, the 13-year-old married (forcibly) to a 44-year-old Muslim, says she "freely" chose Islam as a religion and "voluntarily" married her husband, who had kidnapped her. The comments: "She was trapped, she was brainwashed, she was threatened." For Sabir Michael, a professor at Karachi University, these videos have no legal value.

Karachi (AsiaNews) - The words pronounced by 13-year-old Arzoo Raja - the kidnapped girl, forcibly converted to Islam and married to a 44-year-old man – heard in some videos released days ago, before the Court of Sindh arrested the alleged husband, Ali Azhar, and placed the girl under protection, are the result of "brainwashing" or "intimidation" and "external pressure".

In the videos, the girl proclaims herself a Muslim by choice, voluntarily married to Ali Azhar, and eager to cut off all ties with her Christian family of origin.

The videos shocked many people. The case of Arzoo has inflamed the Christian community and its authorities, as well as women's and human rights associations, of all faiths, to fight the scourge of child-brides.

The most common comments are: "How can a 13-year-old girl convert to another religion without ever having read the Koran or having received any teaching from a Molvi [doctor of the Koran] or some other Muslim religious personality?".

And why "here in Pakistan no driver's license is given to a person under the age of 18, and a 13-year-old can change her religion and marry a man who is three times her age?". The conclusion is that Arzoo "was trapped, she was brainwashed, she was threatened".

For Sabir Michael, a professor at Karachi University, "these videos released by unknown people raise many doubts".

He points out that in the films Arzo “is reading and this makes clear that these videos are issued by someone else not by Arzoo herself, because the language and content used by video maker is different than the learning of Arzoo and her family. And even some of the pictures used are not of Arzoo. These videos are being circulated to influence the majority community and discourage the minorities. We consider her statements and the videos as under juris, under pressure and having no legal value. Even if you make statements of this kind while you are in a protected place, you have to think about pressures from the environment: you are in a place surrounded by Muslims, who consider it a duty to convert others to their faith".

Here is the text of the translation of the video in which Arzoo declares his Islamic faith (the video was circulated by the family of Ali Azhar).

“Bismillah-e-Rehman-ul-Raheem, my name is Syeda Arzoo Fatima and I am wife of Syed Ali Azhar. And now I became a Muslim and have nothing to do with Christian community, I accepted Islam with my heart and got married with my free will, people of Christian community have put false abduction charges on my husband, while I am not abducted. My mama, papa had beaten me a lot that’s why I requested him to marry me. Please, I have married him with my will, and if I had been abducted then why I had gone to the high court, why record my statements. 

And please if I have gone there and have recorded my statement and court have issued a letter so we may live freely but people of Christian community have made our life miserable and not letting us live a free life.  

So please I request Mufti Sahab and Molvi Sahab, Prime Minister, Chief Minister to please help us and give us justice. 

And share this video everywhere because my In-Laws are also innocent, my both brother in-laws are also kept by police they were also innocent, so please help us so that we may live a free life. We are too much worried they have put us in too much tension but they (my parents) themselves are living a free life and have put us in a difficult situation, so please we need your help.   

I was not abducted, and it is the most important thing that I am not abducted and got married with my free will. These people who are making video have put our life in misery and I don’t know what type of things they are saying. Please I need your help and we will pray for all of you. Whoever will help us and whoever watch our video is requested not to support bad people instead help good people, watch this video so that you come to know what is true.”