Canada: Father accused in multiple honor killings says “Were they to come to life, I would do it again”
“They betrayed Islam,” he said, because they had boyfriends and didn’t want to wear hijabs. This report also details the many occasions on which the child protection system failed to protect the victims through procedural bungling, including interviewing the children in their parents’ presence after hearing of the parents’ threat to kill them, and a general climate of denial about the seriousness of the situation.
“”˜I would do it again”; court hears horror of alleged honour killing,” by Christine Blatchford for the National Post, October 21 (thanks to Michael):
KINGSTON, Ont. “” It”s the Canadian Maple Leaf that flies high over the picturesque locks at Kingston Mills near this historic city, but on the night of June 30, 2009, it might just as well have been the black-red-and-green flag of Afghanistan, with its sacred line proclaiming the greatness of Allah.
What happened at the locks that night, Crown prosecutors alleged in Ontario Superior Court Thursday, was a so-called “honour killing,” the culmination of a violent misogynist Afghan culture that had been transplanted holus-bolus years earlier into the heart of central Canada.
“May the devil s”” on their graves,” Mohammad Shafia told his second wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 20 days after the bodies of the couple”s three teenage daughters and Mr. Shafia”s first wife were recovered from a car in the water at the locks.
Found dead by drowning in a black Nissan Mr. Shafia had bought just eight days earlier ““ the suggestion implicit that he got it for that very purpose “” were Rona Amir Mohammad, the barren wife who had been presented to the children and outsiders both as an “auntie,” and rebellious daughters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and 13-year-old Geeti.
Charged with four counts each of first-degree murder are Mr. Shafia, Ms. Yahya and their oldest son Hamed, who was 18 at the time. All are pleading not guilty.
The ghastly conversation was captured on a Kingston Police wiretap, prosecutor Laurie Lacelle told Judge Robert Maranger and a jury.
In another snippet recorded by the device police had placed in a family car, Mr. Shafia told Ms. Yahya, “They committed treason themselves. They betrayed humankind. They betrayed Islam. They betrayed our religion”¦they betrayed everything.”
He said whenever he saw the pictures taken by Zainab and Sahar on their cell phones ““ these were goofy shots of them posing in bras and panties, or with their forbidden boyfriends “” “I am consoled.
“I say to myself, “˜You did well.” Were they to come to life, I would do it again.”
In a detailed opening address of 90 minutes, Ms. Lacelle told the jurors they would hear from a variety of witnesses, including those to whom Rona Mohammad and the children had confided their fear of Mr. Shafia and Hamed.
In fact, what was most galling about the prosecutor”s overview of the evidence to come was how very openly the teenagers had rebelled against their parents “” once, from a street corner in Montreal where the family lived, they begged a stranger to call 911 for them because they were so afraid to go home “” and how little Canadian authorities and Canadian law helped them.
In fact, Quebec child protection authorities twice investigated complaints from Sahar”s school, once little more than three weeks before the four bodies were found.
In the first instance, Ms. Lacelle said, the social worker deemed the complaint to be “founded” ““ true, in other words ““ but closed the file anyway when Sahar wouldn”t talk to her once she learned that the worker would be obligated to tell her parents what she”d told her.
The next time she interviewed the girl two days later, “Sahar was wearing the hijab” and claimed things had improved at home.
In the second instance, though police in Montreal interviewed the children separately and had them open up about their maltreatment ““ including the fact that Mr. Shafia allegedly “often threatened to kill them” ““ the child protection worker interviewed the girls in the presence of their parents.
Unsurprisingly, they clammed up or recanted their earlier allegations, and the worker closed the file.
Though the family ““ Mr. Shafia, two wives and a total of seven children ““ left Afghanistan in 1992, they didn”t emigrate to Canada until June of 2007, with Rona Mohammad following six months later on a visitor”s visa.
She left a diary, found by police, which detailed the alleged beatings she suffered at her husband”s hands and the cruelty dished out to her by her fertile replacement, Ms. Yahya, who allegedly told her, “Your life is in my hands” and, “You are not his wife; you are my servant.” [...]
Though Mr. Shafia and Hamed may have appeared the picture of successful and Westernized men ““ the father was wealthy, owned a shopping mall in Laval and had contracted to build an upscale home, and the family had lived in Pakistan, Australia and Dubai ““ behind closed doors, they might as well have been back in Afghanistan.
The oldest son Hamed was the head of the household when Mr. Shafia was away. He had a driver”s licence and his own cell phone, used his father”s silver Lexus, and helped him in business.
The daughters, meanwhile, had phones registered to either father or son, and Zainab was kept out of school for a full year after the family discovered she had a boyfriend.
It was her running away, in the spring of 2009, to a women”s shelter which sparked the family”s downward spiral, Ms. Lacelle told the jurors.
But Sahar, too, was rebelling. She had a boyfriend. She loved makeup and clothes, like her big sister. She wanted to be a gynecologist, and was moved by the plight of her native sisters in Afghanistan.
Once, miserable at facing the prospect of having to wear a hijab, she tried to kill herself. According to Rona Mohammad”s diary, Ms. Yahya snapped, “She can go to hell; let her kill herself.”
But it was the little girl, Geeti, who fought her parents most ferociously and who begged most blatantly for help.
“She told her school,” Ms. Lacelle said. “She told the police. She told youth protection.” ….