'I chose Islam on my own': Kerala girl refutes 'love jihad' charges after fleeing to UAE

Kerala girl refutes 'love jihad' angle after fleeing to UAE to adopt Islam
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Dubai: A 19-year-old Christian girl, who fled to Abu Dhabi and embraced Islam, has rubbished reports that she has been 'abducted and coerced' into joining a terrorist group and stressed that she left India on her own free will for love.

Ciyani Benny's remarks came in the wake of her parents filing a missing report alongside a police complaint in Delhi saying that their daughter has been kidnapped.

"This is not true. I have found my true calling and have come to Abu Dhabi of my own free will. No one forced me. I am an adult citizen of India and can make my own decision. I embraced Islam on my own,” Ciyani, who now goes by the name Aisha, told media on Sunday.

Ciyani attended classes until 11am on September 18. However, the same afternoon, she took a 2.45 pm GoAir flight to Abu Dhabi to get married to an Indian man she became friends with on social media about nine months ago.

Her parents, originally from Kozhikode in Kerala, said they fear their daughter could have been brainwashed and led astray with very nefarious designs like joining an outfit such as Islamic State (IS) or being used as a slave.

Ciyani has strongly refuted these allegations.

On Saturday, she issued a statement saying that she embraced Islam in Abu Dhabi Court on September 24 of her own free will. 

"I have accepted this religion and would ensure that I would live with the same faith, she said in a letter addressed to the Indian home minister, the National Commissions of Minorities and Kerala and Delhi chief ministers.

Our Constitution provides each and every citizen the freedom of religion and freedom... I have been called by the Indian Embassy and I have stated my terms that I have come here on my own and would not want to go back," she said, urging the government to take action against those spreading fake news that she has been abducted or is part of a terrorist group.

"They are paranoid. The other day my family stumbled upon some prayers while rummaging through my belongings back home. The prayers were in the Arabic script so they assumed that I was being indoctrinated. The fact is that I have always had a keen interest in Islam and was studying it long before I met the love of my life, she said.

Benny said her parents have air-dashed to Abu Dhabi to meet her.

"I have told them I am not going back. I want to get married to live in the UAE," she said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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