Safie's mother, a Christian, was abducted by the Turks; her father, a Muslim, was beguiled by the mother and married her. Safie's mother secretly instructed Safie in the tenets of the Christian faith, which Safie accepted. Her mother also raised Safie with the independence of mind of a European woman, so that she would not want to be part of a harem.
Safie took all of her mother's teachings to heart. After her mother died, she longed to move to Europe from Constantinople and marry a Christian man so that she could have the kind of freedom Muslim women were not allowed at the time. She is eventually able to travel to Paris, where she meets Felix, who is so outraged by how her father has been mistreated that he does everything he can to help him, even abetting him in escaping from prison.
Safie's father promised Felix his daughter's hand in marriage, but, as a Muslim, he secretly "loathes" the idea of his daughter marrying a Christian man. Therefore, he merely strings Felix along to get his help, having no intention of allowing him to wed Safie.