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Shafia murder a domestic violence issue, not one of ‘honour’

TORONTO – A jury took 15 hours to find three members of an Afghanistan-born Montreal family, Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son Hamed, 21, each guilty of four counts of first-degree murder.

The case riveted Canadians from coast to coast for many reasons, one of them being about a concept that was introduced by the Crown as the reason for the killings.
From the beginning, the Crown argued that this case was a so-called “honour killing” carried out to restore the reputation of a family soiled by the alleged rebellious behaviours of three sisters who seemingly acted like many teenagers do today.

Judge Robert Maranger described the killing of the three Shafia daughters and a co-wife as “cold-blooded, shameful murders” resulting from a “twisted concept of honour.” While the jury sided with the Crown’s argument, one Muslim community leader says this case was not about religion, but about domestic violence.

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Alaa Elsayed, director of religious affairs for the Islamic Centre of Canada told Global News that regardless of what religion, there is no honour in killing the innocent. If any criminals committed a crime, they should pay the price.

“Anybody who says it’s an honour killing shows that they’re hopelessly naive in understanding what honour killing is about,” said Elsayed. “We are very specific on what the religion says and to make sure that the human soul is very valuable to us.”

Elsayed says the focus needs to be on examining the root cause of the event. He says [they, Islamic community] talk about the “back home theory.” The concept centres on the idea that parents should not raise their children in the way they were raised, because you were born and raised in a different time and environment.

“The failure of raising your child… the person should be blaming himself or herself,” said Elsayed, “A failure for you to have an end result that you want means you did not attend to your children properly. It’s a domestic violence issue, bottom line. It has nothing to do with the religion, specifically Islam.”