SANAA, Yemen – A Yemeni court postponed issuing a verdict Sunday in the case of a Saudi woman accused of eloping across the border with her Yemeni boyfriend, prosecutors said, as the couple's supporters demonstrated outside the courtroom claiming to answer to the "call of love."
Prosecutors said they needed the time to see if 22-year-old Huda Abdullah Ali could be registered as a refugee with the U.N., which would allow her to remain in the country and marry her boyfriend. She has become a cause celebre with some youth in Yemen, a traditional society not normally associated with public demonstrations in the name of romance.
Prosecutors say her Yemeni boyfriend, 25-year-old Arafat Mohammed Taher al-Qadi, told investigators that Ali's father rejected his marriage proposal, and the two were forced to elope. Ali is charged with illegally entering Yemen while al-Qadi is accused of helping her.
"My only demand is to grant Huda humanitarian refugee status so that I can marry her," al-Qadi said as police led him outside the court. He thanked the people who have come out in his support.
The Yemen Organization for Defending Human Rights, HOOD, said earlier that they have provided the court with all necessary documents for Ali to be registered as a refugee.
HOOD's lawyer Abdul-Raqeeb al-Qadi said the Interior Ministry was still refusing to let the U.N's refugee agency see Ali, who is in detention.
The couple's supporters outside the court chanted, "The sit-in continues until the pair are wed."
A group who had been bussed in from the city of Taiz to the south carried banners reading, "Taiz supporters respond to the call of love."
The court postponed its verdict until Dec. 1.