A 19-year-old student of Delhi University (DU) from Kerala who flew to Abu Dhabi last fortnight and embraced Islam has rubbished reports that she has been abducted and coerced into joining a terrorist group, or that she is a victim of ‘Love Jihad’ – a hate campaign and false propaganda run by anti-Islamic forces claiming that Muslim men lure non-Muslim girls, and trick them into marriage and force them to accept Islam.
Aisha’s (Ciyani Benny before she converted) remarks came after her parents filed a missing report alongside a police complaint in Delhi saying that their daughter has been kidnapped while her college mates petitioned the Chief Justice of India stating: “an Indian national has been abducted by forces that have been creating havoc around the world”.
“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,” Aisha, told Gulf News on Sunday.
A final year undergraduate student at DU-affiliated Jesus and Mary College, Aisha attended classes until 11 am on September 18. However, the same afternoon, she took a 2. 45 pm GoAir flight to Abu Dhabi to get married 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 misled/cheated/brainwashed/abducted and led astray with very nefarious designs like joining an outfit such as Islamic State (IS) or being used as a slave.
Aisha 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 the 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.
“I love Islam and have choses it as my religion. I proclaimed the shahadat (‘Ash-hadu ‘an laa’i-laa-ha ‘il-lal-laa-hu.) while I was still in Delhi but did not make it public. I did that here in Abu Dhabi Court. The Shahada is an Islamic creed, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, declaring belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as God’s Prophet,” she said in an interview to Gulf News.