Child protection officers swoop after Egyptian boy, 12, proposes to fiance, 10

A family have come out fighting after they were hit by criticism for "marrying" a 12-year-old groom to his 10-year-old cousin.

Egyptian child protection officials swooped after photographs showing the young pair at a wedding-like ceremony were shared online by their proud families.

The pictures quickly went viral, showing 12-year-old Ziyad and 10-year-old Sama at their engagement ceremony in Sharqia Governorate in the northern part of the country.

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The young girl is seen smiling in a white wedding dress alongside the boy in a blue suit in pictures that were reportedly taken at the Walad Saqr Center with their parents behind them.

During the festivities, the boy reportedly gave the engagement ring to the girl amid applause and cheers from the gathered families and friends.

Interviewed by local media, he said that he has always loved his aunt's daughter and wants to marry her.

He promised that he would work hard to complete his studies so that they could have a happy marriage once they reach legal age.

The family defended the engagement, saying that the groom's grandfather had come up with the idea and that the two children are cousins, as the mothers of the groom and his fiancee are sisters.

The grandfather, who defended the move, said: "I love my daughters, and I want them to be related to each other always, even in lineage. I proposed the ideas that will put oil in our flour, as they say."

The Director of the General Department for Child Help, Muhammad Nazmi, said that the Sharkia Governorate child protection officials had gone to the family home to make it clear to the parents the dangers of early marriage for the children.

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They said that they also took undertakings from the parents that the children be properly cared for and that any marriage plans would be put on hold.

When questioned by local media, the parent said that despite the ceremony, the young people will have the chance to choose whether they really want to marry once they are the appropriate age.

They said: "We are not forcing to do anything, we just wanted to rejoice and announce the connection principle, as is customary in many families."

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