Yemen's twittersphere, which is usually filled with disturbing news of assassinations, drone strike attacks or political turmoil, has been overtaken lately with a modern day version of Romeo and Juliet's love story. But the story is more complex and has an international twist. Juliet is Huda Abdullah Al Niran, a 22-year-old Saudi, who fell in love with her Romeo, 25-year-old Yemeni migrant worker, Arafat Mohammed Taher Al-Qadhi.
Huda met Arafat for the first time when she went to purchase a mobile from the shop in her village where he worked. They fell in love and after several attempts to officially ask for her hand in marriage were refused by her family, Huda decided to escape a forced arranged marriage. She eloped to Yemen last month to get married to her Yemeni sweetheart Arafat. However, she was arrested at the border and put in jail. Today, she faces charges for entering the country illegally and so does Arafat, who is charged with assisting her do so, although he crossed the border nine hours after her.
In an audio interview posted on YouTube by Saudi Okaz Alyoumon on November 3 , 2013, Huda recounts how she met Arafat, fell in love with him and decided to elope after her family had refused his request to take her hand in marriage – just because he is Yemeni.
Belkis Wille, researcher at Human Rights Watch, tweeted:
Yemen deporting Huda could well lead to her death, UNHCR must do all in its power to interview her before too late- http://t.co/JtIXgsUhbA
— Belkis Wille (@belkiswille) November 21, 2013
Today the UNHCR agreed to grant asylum to Huda, who risks facing victimization by her family should she be deported back to Saudi Arabia and returned home. A Yemeni court postponed issuing a ruling in her case on Sunday (Nov. 24) until December 1.
Yemeni journalist Nasser Arrabyee tweeted:
The Saudi woman Huda, is now under the UN protection, no one can harm her from family or gov, said the lawyer Jamal Jubi.
— Nasser Arrabyee (@narrabyee) November 24, 2013
Journalist Saed al-Batati gives us an update:
— Saeed Al-Batati (@saeedalBatati) November 24, 2013
There are many sympathizers and supporters following the couple's ordeal in Yemen, including cartoonist Carlos Lattuf who showed his support:
— Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) November 24, 2013
Meanwhile, on the ground, hundreds of people gathered outside the courtroom chanting: “Love before borders and citizenship.”
The crowds demonstrated demanding the judge to dismiss the case and wed the couple. A Facebook page, entitled “We are all Huda and Arafat”, has been created to lobby their case. It has more than 12,000 likes so far. It has also been reported that a Sheikh from Yemen has offered them a home and another one some furniture.
There are also those who oppose what Huda did; crossing so many lines, that of her family, society and country in order to be reunited with whom her heart chose.
Some even wondered what would the Yemeni reaction be should the circumstances be reversed.
— ameera (@ameeraymnia) November 22, 2013
One reply was:
— محمد (@BenGhalib) November 22, 2013
Another reply was:
— Hayaat – حيــاة (@hayaatq) November 22, 2013
So will we witness a happy ending to the Yemeni-Romeo and Saudi-Juliet love story? Or will it be another sad and tragic ending?