Emile Zehnder, 85, a native of Strasbourg, France, told his neighbors Enver and Halide Kodat, originally from Türkiye's Elazığ, that he wanted to see Türkiye and asked them to take him with them after losing his wife nine months ago. The Kodat couple did not refuse Emile's request and took the 85-year-old Frenchman with them on holiday to Türkiye.
The couple and Emile first toured historical sites in Istanbul and later came to their hometown of Elazığ. Emile, who was warmly welcomed wherever he went in Elazığ, woke up one morning and told Enver Kodat that he wanted to become a Muslim.
Enver, who was surprised at first, expressed his happiness and applied to the Provincial Office of the Mufti. After the conversion ceremony was held in the Mufti building, Deputy Provincial Mufti Özer Cömert informed Emile about the basic principles of Islam. Following this, Emile then became a Muslim by reciting the shahada – the Muslim oath and a pillar of Islam – in the presence of witnesses and took the name Emin.
Emin Zehnder said that he is happy because he is a Muslim and that he has a lot to learn, as he has just recently converted to Islam.
He spoke about the support his Turkish and Muslim neighbors gave him in France after his wife passed away and also what impressed him about Islam.
"After my wife died, I came across sincerity everywhere I went, that Muslims really are 'one for all.' That's why I chose to become a Muslim. I previously did not have much knowledge about Islam. After my wife passed away, I started spending more time with my neighbors. They also supported me a lot. After that, I wanted to learn more about Islam. The fact that Turks support each other in France also impressed me a lot," he said.
Based on his experiences with his Muslim neighbors, Turks and his trip to Türkiye, he made the following conclusions: "Islam is a more compassionate religion. I just converted to Islam. I'm learning slowly. I still have a lot to learn. I will learn more over time. I can always say good things about Türkiye.”