Child bride wants to stay in Turkey

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The Independent Online
JACKIE Cook, the mother of the 13-year-old Essex schoolgirl who illegally "married'' her Turkish holiday sweetheart, yesterday suspended efforts to persuade her daughter, Sarah, to obey a High Court order and return to Britain.

Mrs Cook, 37, was seen leaving Kahramanmaras with British consular officers. She was reportedly booked on a flight back to Britain today without Sarah. Mrs Cook and her husband, Adrian, 42, are expected to appear before the president of the Family Division of the High Court tomorrow to explain why Sarah has not returned. Essex social services applied to the High Court after interviewing the Cooks about the circumstances in which Sarah went to live in Turkey in November.

Shortly after her mother left town, Sarah held court in the Yasar pastry shop, a focal point of social life in a town famed for its ice cream, fine honey and pistachio cakes.

Sarah ate nothing, however, this being the fasting month of Ramadan in her adopted Muslim religion. She said she was very happy, that she wants to stay in Turkey and that she loves 18-year-old Musa Komeagac, the seasonal resort waiter whom she "married'' two weeks ago in a religious ceremony not recognised by Turkish law. She also said she was not pregnant.

The headstrong girl spent the day in triumphal progress around town, being showered with presents from ordinary citizens and community leaders. "If she stays and gets properly married - possible in eight months' time, under Turkish law - we'll give her a furnished house. I'll give her one of the best we have," said Ali Sezal, the pro-Islamic welfare party mayor of Kahramanmaras.

Sarah finished her tour with a visit to the prison outside town where Musa's fellow inmates have been treating him as a romantic hero. He added a new note of melodrama when he warned that they both might kill themselves if she had to leave. But he said that he would go to England as soon as he got a visa. "I do believe that Sarah will be a good housewife," he said. "She's learning very fast.''

But if Sarah's wilful defiance of parents and homeland is any indication of the future, Musa may find that his sweetheart from Braintree does not quietly follow the traditional Turkish path from honoured new bride to obedient daughter-in-law. Love, law and good old moral outrage, page 13