After my adventures yesterday in Florida, it seems as if the only people who think that Islam doesn’t sanction honor killings work for newspapers in the United States.
“My mother hired a hitman to kill me: The shocking story of a Muslim woman whose parents disapproved of her Western lifestyle,” by Sofia Hayat in the Daily Mail, September 3 (thanks to all who sent this in):
The text message forwarded to me from my younger sister Saira was concise and chilling: ‘Mum’s sent a hit man to kill you,’ it read. ‘Be careful.’
As I read those words, my first instinct wasn’t fear or even shock, but simply survival.
I’d become accustomed to behaviour like this from both my parents – behaviour that anyone else would find abhorrent – and I was emotionally numb to their threats.
But I also knew that my sister’s warning was deadly serious and my life was in real danger. I’d been in hiding for several weeks when I received the text.
I was born in Gravesend in Kent in 1974 and brought up there in a devout Muslim family with three sisters and two brothers.
My father Zammurrad, a factory worker, was a deeply religious man but violent towards my mother Surriya and my sisters Zarqa, now 38, Saira, 33, and Tahira, 32.
I tried to be an obedient daughter, praying up to five times a day, but I never felt loved by my parents – or that I really belonged.
In turn, my parents viewed me as something of an oddity. Perhaps it was because I loved performing.
From as young as five, acting and singing was in my blood and at school I won so many competitions for writing songs that if the teachers wanted a song for an assembly they’d ask me to write one and I’d get up on stage and sing it.
My love of singing and dancing wasn’t exactly encouraged at home, but it wasn’t a big problem when I was young. But as I hit my teens, my parents told me I could no longer continue.
I was to forget my childish fantasies of becoming an actress, as in their eyes singing and dancing were on a par with prostitution.
As I grew older, my father started placing increasingly severe restrictions on my life. I was forbidden from making friends with other children and lived a very lonely existence.
On the one occasion I was given special permission to attend a birthday party of a girl who lived 100 metres down the road, I was allowed to stay for only an hour. My life was just school and home, with no free time for myself.
Throughout my childhood, my father grew more aggressive towards my mother and sisters, regularly throwing plates and knives at us in anger.
My brothers Majid, now 31, and Wajid, 29, were allowed to do as they pleased, but my sisters and I were told that Muslim girls were like a white sheet; once stained, forever ruined.
If ever I returned home even five minutes late from the park or school, my father would hit me with his belt, often until I bled. It got so bad that my sisters and I used to wear five layers of clothing to protect ourselves….
There is much more. Read it all.