Forbidden Afghan Lovers Fight for Asylum in NYC

Her family has been trying to kill them in the name of honor since 2014
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2016 6:39 PM CDT
Forbidden Afghan Lovers Fight for Asylum in NYC
Zakia and Mohammad Ali, "the Afghan Romeo and Juliet," arrived in New York City on Tuesday. They're hoping to be granted asylum.   (YouTube)

Zakia and Mohammad Ali, the "Afghan Romeo and Juliet," eloped in 2014. Since then, her family has been hunting the couple, believing Zakia needs to be killed to preserve their honor. The New York Times has been chronicling the couple's plight. And on Tuesday, they finally arrived in New York City on a 90-day visa. Zakia and Mohammad Ali, who have a 17-month-old daughter, are from different Muslim sects. Zakia's marriage to Mohammad Ali led to her family being kicked out of their village. They've been seeking vengeance ever since. “They couldn’t live anywhere in peace,” says Manizha Naderi, the executive director of Women for Afghan Women. "Zakia’s family would hunt them down."

While on the run from her family, Mohammad Ali and Zakia have sought safety everywhere from the mountains of Afghanistan to jail cells. Mohammad Ali says they "tried everything" in Afghanistan and came to America for "security and safety." They're applying for asylum with the help of Women for Afghan Women, but even if they get it, their struggle is far from over. Both Mohammad Ali and Zakia are illiterate. Their work experience is largely in potato fields. Women for Afghan Women is attempting to help them adapt to life in the US. (More asylum stories.)

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