'Afghan Romeo' Freed From Jail, Returns to His Juliet

Charges dropped against Zakia and Mohammad Ali
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2014 9:50 AM CDT

An Afghan couple who married for love—and wound up getting arrested for it—reunited yesterday, after both were freed from custody, the New York Times reports. Mohammad Ali, 21, a Shiite Hazara, and Zakia, 18, a Sunni Tajik, eloped in March and went on the run from their families and the law, prompting the Times to dub them "the Afghan Romeo and Juliet." Zakia's father pressed charges against them for bigamy, saying Zakia had already been married to her nephew—she says she was merely engaged to him against her will. Six of Mohammad Ali's male relatives apprehended him on June 6 and took him to police, who charged him with kidnapping. Zakia then turned herself in to a women's shelter, where the Times explains she was "effectively kept under a form of house arrest."

But the case attracted widespread media attention, particularly in Afghanistan, and Afghanistan's attorney general intervened, ordering Mohammad Ali's release last week; the charges against Zakia were dismissed yesterday. He also offered to file charges against Zakia's father for trying to force her to marry against her will—a crime under Afghanistan's Elimination of Violence Against Women law—but she declined. "If my family catches us, they won't leave us alive," she says, and she never expects to see her parents again. "But I don't want trouble for them." (More Zakia and Mohammad Ali stories.)

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