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Girl tells media she embraced Islam of her own free will

Saeed Iqbal

KARACHI: “My name is Syeda Faryal Bibi, I have embraced Islam without any force and have married Syed Naveed Shah of my own free will,” said a visibly shaken teenage girl during a hurriedly called press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday. “Earlier my name was Rinkle Kumari,” she added.

A couple of bearded people, who said they were from Dargah Bharchundi Sharif, kept on giving notes to the girl during the press conference. A woman, who said she was a police constable from Sukkur, was also present at the press conference, which was abruptly cut short. A police mobile which had come with them remained parked at the press club and left with them. The girl could not respond to questions asked by journalists and kept on saying that she had embraced Islam without any force and married of her own free will.

Her parents are claiming that she had been kidnapped, converted and married off. They have launched a protest movement.

The court taking taken notice of the matter and has directed the authorities to produce her Monday.

Addressing the press conference, she said she had not been forced by anyone to change her religion. She liked the teachings of Islam and, therefore, she converted and married Mr Shah.

She said she was 18 years old and an adult and free to decide what she wanted to do. She said she did not want to go to Darul Amaan and wanted to live with her husband. “That is what I am going to say in the court tomorrow,” she added.

When asked how she leaved her home, she said she left the home at around 4am and went to Bharchundi Sharif. Responding to another question, she said she had telephoned the Dargah people and they had come to take her there.

She said she used to watch Islamic television channels, read a lot of religious books and other material and discussed with her friends and then decided to convert.

When asked if she could recite any surah and tell its meaning, she said she would recite surah Ikhlas but could not recite. She looked at her husband sitting next to her but even he could not help her.

When asked for how long she had known Mr Shah, she said she did not know him or had never met him earlier. After embracing Islam she married him.

At this point one of the two men came forward and said that the press conference was over. They held her arm and took her away while Naveed Shah remained there.

Before the man and the girl could reach the door of the room, the mediapersons asked that why a person associated with a Dargah, a religious place, was holding the arm of a non-Mehram adult girl and dragging her, he only said that “she is my sister” and when confronted how could she be his sister as she had embraced Islam only a few days ago, he said: “she is my Islami sister.”

They boarded a waiting car and left along with a police mobile which was parked outside the press club.