Turkey embraces English girl-bride

HUGH POPE

Kahramanmaras and STEVE BOGGAN

A groundswell of popular indignation swept Turkey yesterday over attempts by the High Court in Britain to bring the 13-year-old bride, Sarah Cook, home.

The schoolgirl from Braintree, Essex, is fast becoming a religious and cultural cause celebre in her adoptive country as anger grows over the continued imprisonment of her Turkish husband on statutory rape charges.

Hopes that Sarah would return to England "forthwith", as Sir Stephen Brown, President of the Family Division of the High Court, ordered on Wednesday, appeared to be in vain when her husband, Musa Komeagac, 18, was remanded in custody until 15 February.

He is being held on statutory rape and abduction charges in Kahramanmaras, south-eastern Turkey, which Sarah has made her home since marrying him two weeks ago.

Opinion in the town and in the country's media is undivided: the couple should be left alone. Outside the court yesterday a man shouted to applause: "You meddling English. We will make you accept that Sarah is ours. For us, marrying at this age is absolutely normal."

The provincial governor, Aslan Yildirim, said: "As much as the British courts say they are looking after Sarah's interests, we will look after them here. They are not officially married, but it is considered a marriage according to our customs."

Mr Yildirim was backed by the town mayor. Ali Sezal vowed that he would himself legally marry Sarah and Musa when she turns 14 on 2 September, and would give a job to Musa, who is unemployed.

The chief prosecutor said he would make a decision about an application by lawyers to include Sarah's mother, Jackie, in the suit along with Musa. Ali, Musa's father, and a man who performed the illegal wedding ceremony are named in the indictment. Normally, girls under 15 cannot marry in Turkey. The Turkish press has united behind the couple. Feminist commentators have praised her defiant statements of love, while Islamist newsheets have trumpeted that the case shows the superiority of Islamic Sharia law.

The order making Sarah a ward of court is not binding in Turkey and, according to the Lord Chancellor's department, there are no legal moves designed to persuade the Turkish courts to comply with it.

Nor is the apparent failure by Sarah's mother to bring her daughter home likely to trouble the High Court. "The judge used the word 'forthwith', and that doesn't really have a definition," said one source. "He didn't specify a date."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us