HERAT, Afghanistan, July 31 (UPI) — A teenage couple are in an Afghan jail and facing death threats from their own families for trying to marry across ethnic lines.
The girl, Halima Mohammedi, and the boy, Rafi Mohammed, both 17, met last year at an ice cream factory where she worked in the western city of Herat, The New York Times reports.
After a year of secret courtship, the boy, an ethnic Tajik, went to the Hazara girl’s village to take her to a courthouse to wed and was set upon by a mob of 300 people accusing the pair of fornication, and nearly killed.
“We knew they would kill us,” Mohammedi said.
When police tried to intervene, witnesses said, the crowd attacked them, burned their cars and stormed their police station.
The provincial council has decreed the young lovers deserve protection because neither was engaged to anyone else, and both say they want to wed.
The pair are now in separate wings of Herat’s juvenile prison, but face a worse fate if they get out.
Mohammedi’s uncle visited her to tell her she had disgraced the family and would be killed once she was released. Her father cried during two visits, but said, “What we would ask is that the government should kill both of them.”
“I feel so bad,” Mohammedi said. “I just pray that God gives this girl back to me. I’m ready to lose my life. I just want her safe release.”