Unknown to the English speaking world, another grisly apostate/honor killing recently took place in the Muslim world, namely, Jordan. On August 28, 2008, days before her 21st birthday, Rana Riad Muhammad Siwahra, wife and mother of two girls (aged 3 and 5) was murdered by her father. After stabbing her with a knife five-six times in the stomach and chest, he smashed her skull in with a large rock. Afterwards, he washed his hands and went to the market where he was later arrested.
The Jordanian press said the motive was “unclear,” that they were having personal “disagreements,” and that he killed her in a “fit of rage.” Islam, ridda (apostasy) laws, and honor were never mentioned as possible motives.
Her husband, Sultan Muhammad Siwahra, however””himself on the run and in hiding””was recently interviewed on the Arabic satellite program, Su”al Jar”i (“Daring Question”), where he insisted that his wife was murdered specifically because of Islam and the culture it breeds.
For the record, Su”al Jar”i airs on Qanat al-Haya (“Channel of Life” or “Life TV”), which also airs Father Zakaria Botros” shows, and is similarly dedicated to exposing the problematic aspects of Islam, as well as focus on relevant events of the day””such as this murder. Hosted by apostate Muslim converts to Christianity””who also live in hiding””known only by their first names, Rashid and Ahmed, the show’s no-holds barred style has made it, along with Father Zakaria’s shows, one of the most watched programs on Arabic satellite.
(Though the video is entirely in Arabic and there are no English subtitles, images of the slain, her husband, and daughters can be seen on it. Also, thanks to Rabad Castle and Robert for bringing this to my attention.)
According to Sultan, he grew up in an average Muslim household; yet, when he was a teenager, he was lured to the call of jihad, eventually going to Iraq in order to fight the American infidels and gain entrance into a voluptuous paradise (he asserted that, as a teenager, one of his greatest motivations to go on the jihad was the promise of 72 “unearthly” women in paradise).
To make a long story short, he eventually embraced Christianity (in part due to watching Father Zakaria’s show) and abandoned the jihad. When her family found out that he had apostatized, they renounced him, razed his house, reclaimed their daughter, and, according to sharia, which does not permit Muslim women to marry infidels, concluded that Rana’s marriage to Sultan was null and void. In the meantime, he went in hiding in Syria.
During Sultan’s Syrian sojourn, Rana’s uncle Jihad (yes, a real, and increasingly popular, Muslim name) called him urging him to return to his “right mind,” come back to the fold of Islam (even if just externally), and that everything would then be alright: he”d get his wife and daughters back, and no one would be out to kill him. Jihad also revealed (the audio-taped conversation was aired) that there was a bounty on his head and that his picture and name were posted on various Islamist websites: as Jihad said, damak halal“””Your life is forfeit.”
Sultan revealed that, when he was hiding in Syria, both his family and Rana’s called him assuring him to just come back and that something would be worked out. He eventually returned only to receive a very cold reception, including from his own family (one of his aunts asked a mufti if it was permissible for her to merely greet him, was told no, and accordingly would not receive him). He also found out that some of Rana’s relatives were providing information about him to the local sheikhs in order to have him killed. Once again, he fled to an undisclosed local place.
In the meantime, Rana and her daughters were under “house arrest” at her father’s home, who absolutely forbade her seeing her husband, insisting that doing so is tantamount to adultery, as his apostasy had by default annulled their marriage.
Rana eventually fled to where Sultan was residing, telling him that she just wants to be with him, and that’s its best for them to flee Jordan, from both their families, and go live anywhere else. When Sultan asked her about his conversion, she told him that she too was prepared to go to a church and convert to Christianity””but that they had better act quick before her father caught up with them.
That same day, while Sultan was away, her father, having ascertained where they were, arrived at their place, greeting his daughter with a knife-stab to the heart and, for the grand finale, pounding her head open with a rock
Su”al Jar”i aired another taped conversation between Sultan and his murdered wife’s family which further revealed that, far from blaming the father, they held Sultan to blame. Jihad told him, “In short, this is entirely your fault,” while Rana’s mother was heard in the background screaming abuses such as “You son of bitch!” and “You lowlife, Christian dog!”
To date, Sultan is in hiding and his apostate life is still forfeit. His daughters are now being raised by his father, who says they are all that remain to him of his son. And, although both his family and Rana’s continuously tried talking him into returning to Islam, they have now been ostracized by the Muslim communities they live in, for the great shame of having a relative convert to Christianity.
Host Ahmed went on to reveal some interesting facts about ridda law, and what penalties await the apostate. According to him””and, as an apostate himself, he should know””while all four schools of Sunni jurisprudence demand that apostates be put to death, the Hanafi school is against killing female apostates. Instead, females should be trapped and essentially tortured until they see the “error of their ways.”
The vast majority of those Muslims calling into the show were primarily interested in demonstrating that the slaying was un-Islamic. For, they argued, while killing Sultan is in fact Islamic, killing his wife was not, since there is no clear evidence that she had truly converted to Christianity. As one caller kept insisting, “Even Sultan himself admits she had not yet gone to church to convert and thus she should not have been killed!” In other words, their contention revolved around the fact that Rana may not have apostatized after all, and so may have been innocent””not that killing an apostate is wrong in the first place.
Ironically, according to Sultan, her death has only reinforced his faith, as in one heartfelt scene he implored his fellow apostate hosts: “What sort of religion makes a father murder his own daughter?!” Nor does he hold Rana’s father to blame, insisting instead that “He was always a good man, but it’s his religion that instructs him so.”
Perhaps most troubling of all is the fact that, if this brutal tale never even made it to the Western press, how many similar stories of apostasy/honor killings, not to mention general oppression, in the Islamic world never even make it to the local media and in the indigenous language?