“Can religion really lead a mother and father to kill their own child? It is clear that in the Ahmeds’ case, this was so: Alesha, the victim’s surviving sister, testified in court that her parents openly acknowledged that they must do away with the rebellious teenager. She had adopted ‘western ways’, and brought shame on their family.”
Cristina Odone exploits the tragic death of Shafilea Ahmed in order to demonstrate that she’s an ignorant bigot.
Of course, Odone doesn’t provide any evidence to back up her assertion that it was their religious beliefs that caused Shafilea’s parents to murder her. The quote from Alesha Ahmed that she produces indicates that their motive was a warped conception of “honour”, which is not specific to any faith community.
As a 2007 report prepared for the European Parliament, Honour Killing, its Causes and Consequences, states:
“Honour killing is often mistakenly believed to be an Islamic practice or a practice condoned by Islam since it often occurs in Muslim-majority societies. In actual fact honour killing is forbidden in Islam and there is no mention of this practice in the Qur’an or in the Hadiths. There is little evidence of the practice in Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia or Malaysia. Honour killing occurs in strongly patriarchal societies often referred to as ‘honour-based’ and which are found primarily in the Middle East, the Balkans, the southern Mediterranean, and South Asia.”
In the UK, ACPO’s Honour Based Violence Strategy emphasises that honour-based violence is “a cultural, not a religious phenomenon” which “cuts across all cultures, nationalities, faith groups and communities”. Last year a Sikh from Telford, Gurmeet Singh Ubhi, was convicted of killing his daughter, in a case that had obvious parallels with that of Shafilea Ahmed. Because the perpetrator wasn’t a Muslim, however, this murder received far less attention from the national media, and we were spared stupid articles from the likes of Cristina Odone claiming that it was his religion that made him do it.
Update: See also “Media bias in reporting of Shafilea Ahmed murder”, ENGAGE, 6 August 2012