While Harry Potter and his sorcerer friends have escaped death many times on the silver screen, one of their co-actors faced it head on this year in Great Britain in the form of a threatened honor murder. But the real magicians in this tragic episode turned out to be the actress-victim’s male relatives, and potential killers, who deplorably evaded prison time, receiving only light sentences from a British court.
The modern fame and glamour of being a Harry Potter series actress could not help Afshan Azad, 22, last spring at her Manchester family home when she ran up against the bigoted, medieval and controlling attitude of her Muslim father who threatened to kill her for meeting a young Hindu man. Azad, who played Padma Patil, a classmate of Potter’s and a twin witch at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the immensely popular film series, managed to escape her family’s death sentence by jumping out of her bedroom window and fleeing to safety.
A British court heard Monday that prior to the father’s death threat, the young Muslim film star was being beaten by her brother, Ashraf, 28. Ashraf also threatened to kill his sister and called her a “prostitute” for the cultural transgression of seeing a non-Muslim, a friendship that “angered” her family.
“The reason for the assault, apparently her association with a Hindu young man, that apparently being disapproved of by her family who are Muslim,” the prosecutor told the court.
According to British newspapers, Azad’s father, Abul, 53, originally from Bangladesh, was awakened by of his son: yelling ”Sort out your daughter! She’s a slag!“ Both the assault and the death threats continued, according to the victim’s statement, with Afshan’s father also saying he would kill her.
“Specifically, she spoke not only of the assault but also of threats to kill, made jointly by her father and brother,” the prosecutor stated.
However, in the end, Afshan told police her father generously offered to murder her, so that her brothers “would not have blood on their hands and he would do the time for it.”
After her escape, police reported Afshan “made it plain” to them that while she sought their support, she did not want her father or brother arrested and would not assist them in doing so. As is often the case with such terrified young women, Afshan said their arrest would put her in “genuine danger.”
To their credit, the police pursued matters and charged the brother and father. Ashraf pleaded guilty to assault on Monday and his father had to agree only to a laughable 12-month peace bond; both were cleared of the death threat charges, a reprehensible turn of events.
As sometimes happens in these cases, male relatives, unfortunately, get off on criminal offenses committed against a female relation because the woman and other family members are too frightened to testify. Afshan most likely belongs in this category. She would not appear in court to give evidence on Monday despite “expensive and time-consuming” attempts to persuade her to do so. Her non-appearance, however, only helped acquit her brother and father of the death threat charges.
In a way, Afshan’s refusal to attend court is understandable. Women under threat of honor murder have even been killed shortly after making court appearances. Attempts are also sometimes made by the family to lure the young women home with false promises that everything has been forgiven and forgotten, after which they are murdered. Such tragic cases can occur months after the incident that had originally caused the young women to go into hiding in the first place.
Fortunately, Afshan is now reported to be living with friends, a wise move considering the circumstances. The fact the British actress told police her father is planning a forced marriage for her may also be a reason for her not returning home.
Afshan’s genuine fear of retribution would probably also account for the “retraction statements” she later made. She retracted her original testimony to police about her father’s murderous words, saying his heavy Bengali accent made it unclear what his exact words were. This reversal, apparently, also helped her father in the courtroom on Monday.
But it is not just young Muslim women who commit alleged cultural missteps that are threatened with violence and death this Christmas season in Great Britain. The British public is also a target. On Monday, British police staged raids on several places across the country and arrested 12 suspected Islamist terrorists between the ages of 17 and 28, mostly of Bangladeshi origin, who were plotting a terrorist strike, using suicide bombers.
“It is understood that the plans for the alleged attacks were at an advanced stage and involved ‘multiple locations’,” stated the British newspaper, The Daily Mail.
In its worship of death, al Qaeda would dearly love to disrupt one of the greatest and most sacred of Christian festivities. Western intelligence agencies have received warnings that the terrorist organization intends to strike somewhere this Christmas season, using a Mumbai-style attack. In the Mumbai tragedy, ten Islamist gunmen killed more than 175 people in a 24-hour murderous rampage that brought Pakistan and India to the brink of war. In a way, India serves as al-Qaeda’s testing grounds. The Islamist terrorists try out their terrorist tactics in India first before using them in other countries.
It is believed that al Qaeda may use Western converts to carry out their deadly Christmas plot in Europe, as they are more difficult to detect. German intelligence is paying special attention to this possibility due to the approximately 50 white German converts known to be training in terrorist camps in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Two are already believed to have slipped back into Germany and are part of a six-man terrorist commando team.
Last month, police in Germany, Holland and Belgium arrested ten men in another suspected terrorist plot. It is believed this group, made up of Moroccans and Chechens, was planning a pre-Christmas strike in Belgium.
Several European countries, including Great Britain, are now in a state of high alert, haunted by the evil of terrorism. The death-worshipping Islamists are attempting to turn one of the world’s greatest events of hope and love into a dead zone, like they did to the Russian town of Beslan where they massacred more than 150 children after taking over a school. The terrorists want to strike at, and destroy, that which is most precious and life-giving. However, in the onslaught of such barbarism, one must, in the words of Britain’s Winston Churchill, never give up. Since the Islamists’ black hearts will never change, history shows they will be defeated.