“May the devil s**t on their graves.”
– Mohammad Shafia
These charming words, picked up by a police wiretap, were Mohammad Shafia’s ghoulish reaction almost three weeks after the murder of his three daughters and first wife, whose deaths he is accused of orchestrating. Daughters Zanaib, 19, Sahar, 17, Geeti, 13, by all appearances beautiful and vibrant teenagers, filled with life, and first wife Rona Mohammad, were found dead in a family vehicle in a canal near Kingston, Ontario, in June 2009. Authorities gave drowning as the cause of death.
An unrepentant Shafia, an immigrant from Afghanistan, appeared in court last week in Kingston to answer for this barbaric loss of human life. He is facing four charges of first degree murder along with his second wife, Tooba, the mother of all the family’s seven children, and oldest son Hamid, who was 18 at the time of the killings. The three have pleaded not guilty to the charges, setting the stage for the most sensational honor murder trial Canada has ever witnessed, particularly because of the number of victims involved.
Canadians woke up to the horror of the honor murder phenomenon, in which some immigrant families, particularly those from Islamic countries, kill primarily female members “to restore family honor,” when teenager Aqsa Parvez, 16, was murdered in a city near Toronto in 2007. Parvez’s Pakistani father and older brother were responsible for her death, her brother having strangled her.
Unlike Mohammad Shafia, however, Parvez’s father called the police right after her execution and said he had just killed his daughter. He and his son eventually pleaded guilty to second degree murder.
It is believed Mohammad Shafia, a prosperous businessman who owns a shopping mall, killed his daughters for the same reason that Aqsa Parvez’s father murdered her: They were living too Western a lifestyle. Shafia’s daughters would wear Western-style clothing, have boyfriends, disrespect traditions such as the hijab, and be defiant of his authority. They also apparently suffered the same mistreatment at their father’s hands that Aqsa Parvez did for behaving so. One daughter was even kept out of school for a whole year when it was discovered she had a boyfriend. Shafia, however, was apparently particularly hostile to the friendship and alliance the three had formed with the childless Rona, which was probably the reason she was also killed in this mass honor murder.
“They committed treason on themselves. They betrayed humankind. They betrayed Islam. They betrayed our religion…they betrayed everything,” Shafia told Tooba, the murdered children’s mother.
To show perhaps he isn’t completely unfeeling, Shafia also told his second wife he becomes “consoled” over his daughters’ deaths whenever he views the cell phone photos Zainab and Sahar took of themselves, posing in their underwear or with boyfriends.
“I say to myself, ‘You did well.’ Were they come to life, I would do it again,” the wiretap recorded him saying.
Shafia arrived with his family in Canada in 2007 and settled in Montreal after leaving Afghanistan in 1992 and spending several years in other countries. He married second wife Tooba after his first wife didn’t bear him any children. Rona Mohammad was brought to Canada on a visa six months later; the girls presented her as their aunt. After her death, police found Rona’s diary, in which she described her husband’s beatings and the cruelty and mistreatment she suffered at the hands of his child-bearing, second wife.
“You’re not his wife. You’re my servant. Your family got rid of you. Who would want a dead weight around its neck? Your life is in my hands,” Tooba had prophetically told her predecessor. Tooba is known to Canadians for the photos that appeared in the media, showing her weeping copious tears over her daughters’ deaths after the discovery of their bodies. Police, however, believe she was involved in their murders all along.
The Shafia family is typical of some immigrant families from Third World countries with strict religious cultures. They arrive in the West but never actually live here. They want to take economically from their new environment but still want to live their lives by the laws, rules, customs and values of their country of origin. They want to adopt nothing in this respect from their new society, believing in some cases their new country’s culture inferior to their own and that it even poses a threat. For them, integration is simply out of the question and no attempt is ever made, choosing self-segregation from the host society instead.
But problems often arise when their children attend school and encounter values that contradict those of the family’s, especially if a strict religious, patriarchal culture reigns at home. Girls face heavy restrictions in such homes, particularly in Muslim ones, and therefore can be especially affected by a school environment where equality between the genders is stressed, and they notice female classmates from other cultures enjoying unheard of freedoms. Wanting to fit in with the others and enjoy life, these girls then rebel against their restrictive home environments, but sometimes with deadly consequences.
Such was the case of the Shafia sisters. But the surprising thing about this tragedy, as was pointed out in one Canadian newspaper, was that the evidence the prosecutor presented in court last week showed how open the girls’ rebellion was. It was no secret. Child welfare authorities had twice been called by Sahar’s schools. The social worker found one of her complaints true, “…but closed the file when Sahar wouldn’t talk to her once she learned that the worker would be obliged to tell her parents what she’d told her.” Another time the girls were too afraid to go home and had a stranger call 9/11. The youngest Shafia sister, Geeti, had asked to be placed in a foster home, and Zainab had even once run away to a women’s shelter.
Part of the failure of the police and social workers to prevent this tragedy was simply ignorance of the misogynistic, religious-based culture in which the Shafia girls lived. In this culture, men believe they have the right to control women, especially their chastity, which, to them, is of the highest importance. If a young woman wishes to determine her own life, which includes sexual behavior, and satisfy her freedom drive, she often must cut off all connections with her family or risk an honor murder. There is no concept of the Western precept of individuality, and a person, especially a woman, is not allowed to establish an identity outside the family, or clan. In such cultures, there are also usually no rights or laws for women, only custom.
And the men who commit these heinous acts have no fear of the host country’s laws. Before killing his daughters, Shafia was researching on the Internet about whether prisoners can have control of their real estate assets.
It was not revealed how the police believe the Shafia sisters and their father’s first wife died that day. The murder victims were reported to have had marks on their heads. Their brother may have pushed their vehicle into the canal with his car. The family was returning in the two vehicles to Montreal from a surprise trip to Niagara Falls that may have been a ruse to get the sisters to the possibly pre-planned murder location. The vehicle used as the women’s coffin was also purchased only six days before the trip.
Further details from the murder trial of the Shafia sisters and Rona Mohammad will only reinforce the belief there is an anti-civilization growing in the West, in which humanistic Western values are coming under siege. Honor murders have now occurred in nearly every Western state. This barbaric “New World” is a threat to liberal societies and democracies, of which honor murders are one of its more horrifying manifestations. The tragedy of the Shafia sisters and Rona Mohammad attest to that.
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To get the whole story on the Left’s deafening silence about Islamic honor killings, read Jamie Glazov’s book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.