Teenage couple electrocuted in Pakistan in ‘honor killing’

In this May 29, 2014 photo, members of Pakistan's civil society protest in Islamabad, Pakistan, to condemn the stoning to death of a pregnant woman in a case of "honor killing". In the latest case of honor killing in Pakistan, family members who were carrying out the orders of an influential tribal council electrocuted a teenage couple who tried to elope, police said on Monday. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Updated 11 September 2017
0

Teenage couple electrocuted in Pakistan in ‘honor killing’

KARACHI: A Pakistani teenage couple who tried to elope were murdered with electric shocks in an “honor killing” by family members who were carrying out the orders of an influential tribal council, police said.
The teenagers in the port city of Karachi were said by the Pashtun council of elders, or jirga, to have brought dishonor on the community.
“The innocent souls were tied to a charpai (rope bed) and given electric shocks,” said Aman Marwat, the police officer who arrested the two fathers and two uncles and is pursuing some 30 members of the jirga who have gone into hiding.
The 15-year-old girl had allegedly run away with her 17-year-old boyfriend last month, Marwat said.
“The girl was killed and buried first followed by the murder of the boy the next day,” he added.
More than 500 people — almost all women — die in Pakistan each year in such killings, usually carried out by members of the victim’s family meting out punishment for bringing “shame” on the community.
Marwat, who has been in the police for 25 years, said he has dealt with many honor killing cases happening in Karachi.
“It indicates a tribalization of society where jirgas exercise more power than law enforcers,” said Zohra Yusuf, a human rights activist in Pakistan.
Jirgas are often convened, particularly in conservative rural areas, to settle local disputes especially between poor families, and although they operate outside the law, their decisions are often honored and ignored by authorities.
In this case, the two families had come to an agreement for the pair to get married, together with a financial settlement to be paid to the girl’s family, according to Kamal Shah, of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, a non-governmental organization that works in the area.
“The girl’s side had agreed but not the jirga and they warned that if the two families did not carry out the barbaric deed, their family in their village back home would have to bear the consequences,” said Zia Ur Rehman, a Pakistani journalist who first reported on the case.
The case highlights the influence of tribal councils and social pressures in Pakistan, which are often more powerful than the law.
“Laws seem useless,” said Maliha Zia Lari, associate director with Karachi-based Legal Aid Society. “The boy’s father did not think he could seek protection from the state and the jirga members did not fear any reprisals from it either.”


Sri Lanka's Muslims fearful of backlash after church attacks

Updated 25 April 2019
0

Sri Lanka's Muslims fearful of backlash after church attacks

  • Intelligence officers ignored warnings, says Islamic body
  • There have been reports of attacks on Muslim homes and businesses

COLOMBO: The people of Dharga Town, Sri Lanka, are familiar with violence and loss. In 2014, anti-Muslim riots killed four, injured dozens and left behind a trail of torched homes and businesses.
Now, almost a week after deadly terror attacks devastated the tropical island, the Muslims in Dharga Town are afraid following Daesh’s claim for the bombings.
“At the end of the day, we have to think about what they (the terrorists) are going to get from this. What have they gained? They’ve lost everything,” 38-year-old businessman M. Imthias told Arab News outside Meera Masjid. “We’ve already been through this, and we know the pain, fear, and emotions they (the Catholics) are going through.”
The Daesh claim, issued through the group’s AMAQ news agency, was made after Sri Lanka said two domestic extremist groups with suspected links to foreign militants were thought to be behind the attacks at three churches and four hotels. More than 350 people were killed and around 500 were wounded in the Easter Sunday violence.
Muslims in Dharga Town fear that efforts to rebuild after the 2014 violence are in vain. Anti-Muslim sentiments are emerging and are fueled by remarks from government officials, such as Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena saying the bombings were retaliation for last month’s New Zealand mosque bloodshed.
There have been reports of attacks on Muslim-owned shops, homes, and a mosque in Sri Lanka. There have also been renewed calls to ban the burqa, citing security reasons and Islamist extremism.
But there is also anger toward the National Thawheed Jamath (NTJ), the group initially identified as being responsible for the attacks. Dharga Town residents told Arab News they believed the perpetrators carried out the attacks for personal reasons, not religious ones, as Islam forbids suicide.
The mood in the town is sombre. Shutters are drawn across windows and stores, including supermarkets, are closed. Men gather in small groups along the road, and the area has an increased military presence. People say perpetrators of the assault should face the death penalty.
Around 20 people in Dharga Town belong to the Sri Lanka Tawheed Jamaath (SLTJ), a faction unpopular with the wider Muslim community. Six SLTJ members were arrested on Tuesday afternoon. The mosque — a shack-like structure — did not open for prayers afterwards. Dharga Town residents opposed the SLTJ establishing a community in the area because of their orthodox ways.
“They wanted to build a mosque, but we didn’t allow it. In the end, they built that place with the iron sheets, and conduct their prayers there,” a village elder, who did not wish to be identified, told Arab News. “If they come for prayers, or engage with us in anything, they always try to push their beliefs on us. What they call Islam is completely different from what we practice.”
The NTJ was ostracized by the All Ceylon Jammiyathul Ulema (ACJU), Sri Lanka’s highest body of Islamic scholars. The organization relayed its suspicions about the NTJ to authorities.
“On Jan. 3, we visited intelligence officers and handed over files with all the details of the perpetrators urging them to take necessary action to stop the NTJ. This was completely ignored,” an ACJU scholar said.
The situation in Sri Lanka remains tense, with nightly curfews and reports of bomb threats. There is also confusion after the Defense Ministry said the NTJ was not behind the attacks, leaving the public afraid about the possibility of another splinter group.
But there are calls for calm, too.
“There is no such anger among us,” Sister Manuja, who survived the St. Sebastian Church bombing, told Arab News. The Catholic community would not seek vengeance, she added. “We are very quiet, very simple people.”