Mahmod Babakir Agha was a beautiful young woman of a family who
had migrated to Britain in 1998 from the Kurdish region of Iraq. Banaz,
aged 20, lived in Mitcham, south London. On Monday,
June 11, 2007
her father and her uncle were found
guilty of killing her. Her father had ordered the killing, and
his brother had carried it out. A shoelace was tied around
Banaz's neck, strangling her. Her decomposing body was found in
Handsworth, Birmingham, 70 miles away, on April 27 last year,
three months after she had "disappeared".
Another man, Mohammed Marif Hama, who was not a relative, but
belonged to the Iraqi Kurdish community, pleaded guilty to murder
this year. Another member of the Iraqi
Kurdish community, Pshtewan Hama, pleaded guilty to perverting the
course of justice. The reason for Banaz being killed was because
she had a boyfriend, 28-year old Rahmat Suleimi, a Kurd from Iran.
After Banaz's father and uncle pleaded guilty, her boyfriend
said: "She was my present, my future, my hope. She was the
best thing that had ever happened to me. I couldn't ask for
anything better than that. Banaz was the nicest and the sweetest
person I have ever come across. She had the best personality. If
you met Banaz once you would never forget about her. After I met
Banaz she just changed me and I became a completely different
person. She hated to argue with anyone, she hated to see anyone
suffering from anything. She just wanted to help anyone. She
wanted to be a happy person. She wanted to see everyone be
Suleimi said of honor killings: "I just hope that one day
this is going to stop and there is going to be a way out for
people. I know it is too late for me and Banaz. If there's anyone
out there in the same situation, do something about it before it's
too late. Once it's too late, it's too late - you will never get
your life back."
The convictions last week were the latest in a series of Muslim
honor killings in Britain. Banaz and her boyfriend had been
repeatedly threatened. Just three days before she officially
"vanished", a group of men Kurdish men had tried to abduct Rahmat
Suleimi in a car. Even though British police did not take Banaz's
while she was alive, her death spurred a
massive police inquiry. There were 47 searches of houses, 22
arrests, 779 statements were taken. Sixteen people were bailed to
reappear before police. It is thought that several people who had
been involved in the plot to kill the young woman had left the
In the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq, where Banaz's family
had come from, the regional prime minister promised a hard line
against such killings this week. Neghervan
said: "recently there have been horrendous
crimes committed against women in some areas of Kurdistan. While
we condemn these crimes, we also rebuke the government ministers
and other bodies for not having applied suitable solutions to
prevent such episodes reoccurring."
Barzani recommended that honor killing, classed in the penal code
as a separate offense to murder, should be reclassified as
"murder". Honor killing is viewed as a "justifiable homicide" and
in many Muslim societies, it is not viewed as seriously as murder.
Over the past decade in Britain, there have been at least
25 confirmed honor
in the Muslim community, but this is only
the tip of an iceberg. The police have acknowledged shortcomings
in their approach to Banaz's pleas for help, and this summer, the
Association of Chief Police Officers is planning to launch an
action plan on "honor violence".
After the conviction of Banaz's uncle and father, Diana Nammi of
the London-based Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organization
said of honor crimes: "We’re seeing an increase around the world,
due in part to the rise in Islamic fundamentalism."
In 2000, the United Nations announced that every year, 5,000
girls and women were killed in "honor crimes", though that figure
may be a low estimate.
In the politically correct climate of Britain where 1.8 million
Muslims live, the issue of honor killing has never been addressed
seriously. Since the 1960s, communities of Muslims have evolved
in Britain's inner cities, where integration and assimilation
have not happened
. Instead of attempting to
integrate Muslim communities within the greater fabric of a
British society, politicians have praised the values of
multiculturalism. And in Britain's ghetto communities, separatism
and segregation are the chosen aims of many. Arranged marriages
are still the norm, particularly amongst Britain's Muslims of
Pakistani and Bangladeshi origins. Such unions constantly import
more people, who have little experience of Britain, and who
automatically become citizens of an increasingly segregated
Honor killing is one aspect of Muslim society that perpetuates
traditional customs which flourish in Kurdish Iraq, Pakistan and
Bangladesh. Most honor killings and acts of "honor violence"
happen in Britain because a young woman (or man) has chosen to
embark upon a relationship not sanctioned by their parents or
peers. Sometimes merely becoming "too Western" is used as an
excuse to kill. During the trial of her killers, it was stated
that the family thought one of the "crimes" of Banaz Mahmod
Babakir Agha was that she was "too Westernized".
the case of 49-year old Mohammed Riaz's family, who lived in
Accrington, Lancashire, in the north of England. Riaz objected to
the way his wife Caneze was bringing up their four daughters,
Sayrah (16), Sophia (15), Alicia (10) and Hannah (3). An inquest
this year heard that friends and relatives
claimed that the father was a "conservative" Muslim. He had
planned for his children to undergo arranged marriages, but Caneze
would not allow this. When the girls had been bought Western
style clothing, Mohammed Riaz burned the garments.
On November 1 last year, while his wife and daughters slept, Riaz
poured gasoline outside their bedrooms, across the hallway and
down the stairs. He then set it alight. His wife and daughters
were killed in the conflagration, yet Riaz was pulled out alive.
He died two days later of 65% burns. Tragically, the only member
of the family to survive was the son, 17-year old Adam. He was
not in the house at the time as he was in hospital in Manchester,
battling Ewings Sarcoma, a type of leukemia. Five weeks after his
family had burned to death, Adam died.
young woman who was murdered for being too "Westernized" was Heshu
Yones. Like the family of Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha, Heshu's
family had arrived in Britain to escape the persecutions of Saddam
Hussein in Kurdish Iraq. Heshu had become used to Western
freedoms, and had developed a relationship with a Lebanese
Christian man. On October 12, 2002, when she was only 16, Heshu's
father murdered her in their home in Acton, west London.
Forty-seven year old Abdalla Yones chased her from room to room,
stabbing her eleven times. The last blow was wielded with such
ferocity that the tip of the blade broke off when it hit bone in
her neck. Before this savage final blow had been dealt, Heshu had
been held down over the bath and her throat was slit open. Heshu
bled to death on the bathroom floor, wedged between the bath and
the toilet. When her body was discovered, the white handled knife
was still sticking out of her throat.
Heshu's father was sentenced to life imprisonment on
September 29, 2003
. Detective Inspector Brent
Hyatt, of the Metropolitan Police's Serious Crime Directorate
said: "Abdalla Yones killed her to shield his so-called honor. A
few months before her death, she had been taken to Kurdistan to be
married off. But the marriage didn't take place because the
groom's family discovered she was not a virgin. Abadalla brought
Heshu back and decided to eliminate her. The family approved of
After his arrest, Heshu's father had tried to claim that he and
his daughter had been attacked by al Qaeda operatives. During his
trial Abdalla Yones had admitted killing for "honor", and said he
would do it again. At the close of the trial, Judge Denison said:
"This is, on any view, a tragic story arising out of
irreconcilable cultural differences between traditional Kurdish
values and the values of western society."
Shortly after the verdict, Amir Taheri wrote in the
: "It is not an overstatement to say that in
some cases Muslim women find themselves more threatened by male
fanaticism in Britain and France than they do in Turkey and Iran."
British police announced that were
embarking on a re-examination of older cases, some up to ten years
old, to see if they were "honor killings". Fifty-two cases from
London and 65 cases from other locations in England and Wales were
to be re-evaluated. A
22 cases had been fully examined, and 18
of these had been classed as "honor killings". After the Yones
trial, campaigners had claimed that in 2002 alone, there had been
12 honor killings.
way in which honor killings in Europe take place is horrific.
Often young males in a family are chosen to kill the "offending"
individual, as it is believed that they will receive a lighter
sentence. On Saturday, April 23, 2005, neighbors in Abbotts Road
in Southall, west London heard a commotion coming from a house
owned by a family of Pakistani origin. Hearing a woman's screams,
one neighbor had knocked on the house door. The 61-year old head
of the family claimed that their 25-year old daughter Samaira was
suffering epileptic fits.
Shortly after this, a witness had heard Samaira shouting: "You
are not my mother any more," followed by "No! No! No!" At one
stage, the front door opened, and Samaira Nazir appeared, covered
in blood. Then a hand grabbed the young woman by her hair and
dragged her, still screaming, into the house. The police were
called. When they arrived, Samaira was found dead in the hallway.
A trail of blood led from the door.
Her 30 year old brother Azhar Nazir and her 16-year old cousin
were found to have bloodstains, and they were arrested. As he was
taken away, Azhar Nazir said: "There had been a problem with my
sister. She does not wish to have an arranged marriage. We only
allow marriage within the family. My sister wanted to run away
from the house and was stopped."
Samaira was bright and educated. She had gained a degree at
Thames University, and had become a director at her brother's
recruitment company, which provided staff for the Hilton hotel
group. Samaira had fallen in love with an Afghan asylum seeker
called Salman Mohammed, who had come to Britain smuggled inside a
lorry in 2000. Salman had worked at a greengrocer's shop owned by
Samaira's brother, but he was considered too "low caste" to be
married into the family. Azhar Nizar had told him on the phone:
"We can get you anywhere if you get married, even if you are not
in this country."
Samaira had been taken to Pakistan in 2004, in an attempt to
force her into an arranged marriage, but she had turned down all
of her prospective husbands. The whole family appeared to be
involved in planning the killing. When Samaira was stabbed to
death with eighteen knife blows, Azhar's two daughters, aged two
and four were present. They had become spattered with blood. Samaira's
16-year old cousin, who also stabbed her, had been led to believe
she had been subjected to "witchcraft" by her Afghan boyfriend.
June 16, 2006
a jury at the Old Bailey found
Samaira's cousin and brother guilty of murder. Samaira's mother
was originally charged with murder, but these charges were
dropped. Samaira's 61-year old father was arrested, but he
claimed that he was unwell and was given bail. He fled to
Pakistan, which has no extradition treaty with Britain.
Most victims of honor killings are female, but males are also
32-year old Waseem Afsar and 31-year
old Nisar Khan were found guilty of murder. The case related to
the killing of a man in July 1996 in Slough, Berkshire.
Twenty-one year old Ahmed Bashir had been discovered to have had
a relationship with Waseem Afsar's sister, Nighat Afsar. The two
men had attacked Bashir with a scimitar sword and a 10 inch knife.
Bashir had forty stab wounds, mostly around his genitals.
was a young engineering
student of Iranian extraction. He studied at Oxford Brookes
University, and in 2003 he fell in love with Manna Begum, a girl
from a Bangladeshi family. Manna's father, a waiter, had already
arranged a marriage for her. When Manna's father found out about
the relationship he banned her from seeing Arash, took away her
mobile phone, and made her a prisoner in the family house. Manna
tried suicide, and eventually escaped to live with an aunt. She
became pregnant, and Arash intended to marry her. He gave up his
studies to work in a toy shop, to be able to support his fiancee
and their child. In November 2004, he had proudly shown his
friends the ultrasound scans of the baby growing in the womb of
his bride-to-be. He had invited them to the wedding. A week
later, he was dead. His body was found on November 20, in his
green Renault car, with 46 stab wounds.
November 4, 2005
at Oxford Crown Court, Manna
Begum's father, 44-year old Chomar Ali, was found guilty, with his
two sons. One of these sons had been only 15 at the time of the
killing, and the other was 19. The elder son, Mujibar Rahman,
of his sister: "She acted contrary to religion
and tradition by dating Arash. Instead of dating, she should have
waited to have an arranged marriage."
The child which Manna was expecting was not allowed to live.
After killing Arash, Chomar Ali forced his daughter to book into
, to have the pregnancy terminated.
Manna was six months pregnant when the Clinicia Ginemedex
terminated her unborn child. Even by European standards this
abortion, which was not carried out for medical reasons, was
Perhaps the youngest victim of a British honor crime is six-year
old Alisha Begum, whose family originally came from Bangladesh. Alisha
was the youngest of 12 children. She lived at the family home in
Perry Barr, Birmingham. On
March 10, 2006
, she was asleep on a bunk bed in an
upstairs bedroom when two men poured gasoline through the front
door and set it alight. The rest of the family managed to escape
by jumping from an upstairs window. Little Alisha was trapped in
the flames, and suffered
95% to 100% burns
. She died the following day in
Birmingham Children's Hospital.
two men were on trial at Birmingham
Crown Court. These were Hussein Ahmad, a 26-year old dentist, and
his associate 18-year old Daryll Tuzzio. Hussein Ahmed had a
sister, who had been having a relationship with 21-year old Abdul
Hamid, Alisha's elder brother.
Prosecutor Adrian Redgrave said: "One hears of so-called honor
killings though one may wonder how by any stretch of the
imagination there can be any honor in what happened here,
resulting in the death of a six-year-old child. Hussain and his
associates knew that at the house there was not only Abdul Hamid,
and he was the one they were trying to get at, but they knew full
well that there was a whole family living there."
The prosecutor described the attack as "pure wickedness" which
had been done to threaten Abdul Hamid for forming an "unauthorized
relationship" with Hussein Ahmad's sister Meherun.
Surprisingly Hussein Ahmad, who had originally conceived the
plot, was acquitted of murder, even though his brother and another
friend were still wanted by the police. They were thought to have
fled to Bangladesh. Darryl Tuzzio, who also had Bangladeshi
origins, was found guilty of arson and manslaughter on
October 5, 2006
. He was sentenced to eight years' jail on
These are just a few of the many cases on record of honor
killings in Britain. In Part Two, I will discuss such cases in
other countries. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, where such killings
frequently take place, there are also cases of horrific
mutilations carried out in the name of "honor".
>>> Continued in Part 2