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‘Honor’ Verdict Saddens Canada Muslims

Published: 30/01/2012 01:32:36 PM GMT
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TORONTO - The conviction of an Afghan couple and their son over a grisly “honor killing” of four family members has saddened the sizable Muslim minority in Canada.“Like most Canadians, the trial has caused anger, shock and (more)

TORONTO - The conviction of an Afghan couple and their son over a grisly “honor killing” of four family members has saddened the sizable Muslim minority in Canada.

“Like most Canadians, the trial has caused anger, shock and sadness in those following it,” Sikander Ziad Hashmi, Imam at the Islamic Society of Kingston, told

“We all have to work hard against domestic violence and honor-based violence.”

Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife, and their 21-year-old son were found guilty Sunday, January 29, in the killing of his three daughters and their mother in2009.

The bodies of Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, along with Rona Mohammad Amir, 50, were found dead in the family's Nissan, submerged in the Rideau Canal on June 30, 2009.

"It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable, more heinous crime," judge Robert Maranger said.

"The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor … that has absolutely no place in any civilized society."

The verdict carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The convicted family members, however, denied any involvement in the killing.

“I did not drown my sisters anywhere,” the son said.

The mother said “I am not a murderer”, while her husband said that “I did not commit any murder.”

The Manitoba-based Islamic Social Services Association expressed concern over the crime.

“We accept and respect the justice system and we believe that the indicted were given a fair trial,” it said in a statement.

“Our thoughts, today, are with the victims of this heinous crime; may they rest in peace. We are also concerned for the remaining children and their future.

“We hope and pray that all stakeholders will come together to provide these children a safe, secure and spiritually compatible home.”

The Shafia family moved to Canada in 2007. They fled their native Afghanistan more than 15 years earlier and had lived in Dubai and Australia before they moved to Montreal and applied for citizenship.


Some Muslims were worried that the use of the term “honor killing” in the verdict could associate the heinous murder with their faith.

“I'm very upset about the fact that this was played out as “honor killing” and somewhat exotic and strange, instead of the fact that this is femicide, which is the killing of girls and women because men, our patriarchy, thinks that that is OK,” said Alia Hogben, president of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

“I feel very very sad. I'm sad for the deaths.”

Hogben said that using the term honor killing in the case did more harm than good.

“My concern is far greater and more deep,” she said.

“The use of the term honor killing was dreadful, utterly dreadful, and it shouldn't have been used.”

The Manitoba-based Islamic Social Services Association was also concerned.

“We are hopeful that Canadian Muslims and the Islamic faith will not be stigmatized, as a whole, for this crime.”

In Islam, there is no place for unjustifiable killing as the case in honor killing.

Even in case of capital punishment, only the government can apply the law through the judicial procedures.

Though portrayed in the Western media as exhorted by Islam, honor killing is a cultural act and has nothing to do with the faith.

Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Roman Catholic country.A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.

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