Gun-wielding riot police surrounded the Sindh High Court Thursday as a Pakistani woman sentenced to die by her tribe for marrying her true love arrived in an armored personnel carrier.
Wearing her bright red wedding dress, Riffat Afridi, 18, walked through the police-lined corridors of the courthouse. Outside, hundreds of men from her tribe called for Afridi's lover to be killed.Afridi turned herself in to police Wednesday, two weeks after she wed a man from another Muslim group. The marriage to Kanwar Ahson sparked riots in Karachi that killed two people and seriously injured eight others.
Afridi appeared in court Thursday to deny kidnapping charges filed by her father against Ahson's family. Dozens of policewomen shielded her as she left the courthouse to return to protective custody.
The trouble started when Ahson, a member of Pakistan's mohajir ethnic group, and Afridi, an ethnic Pathan, apparently eloped because they were unable to get her parent's permission to marry.
Afridi's father says his daughter was kidnapped. Ahson, however, has produced a marriage certificate, police say.
After the rioting, the couple fled Karachi and Afridi's father called a council of Pathan tribal elders to seek justice. The council sentenced Afridi to die, saying that she had dishonored the family by leaving the home, regardless of whether she was kidnapped or willingly married Ahson.