Canadian imams to speak out against "honor killing"

Tue Dec 6, 2011 5:34pm EST
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Note strong language in 8th paragraph

By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian imams plan to condemn the "misguided notion" of so-called honor killings in their Friday sermons this week, responding to the high-profile trial of a father accused of murdering his three teenage daughters, allegedly because they shamed his Afghan family.

The two dozen imams, backed by 60 Canadian Muslim groups, will plead for action to fight domestic violence, perhaps quoting comments from the prophet Mohammad that "the best amongst you is he who treats women the best."

"We felt very strongly that we had a responsibility to make it very, very clear that honor killings -- so-called honor killings; we don't want to consider them anything honorable -- have absolutely nothing to do with Islam," said Sikander Hashmi, an imam in the Ontario city of Kingston where the trial is taking place.

Canadian-born Hashmi said he addressed the issue in a sermon to the 150 to 200 people in his mosque last month and plans to do so again this Friday.

The issue hit the headlines as an Afghan immigrant businessman, his wife and his son face trial for the 2009 drowning deaths of the three teenagers, and of a fourth woman, said by the prosecution to have been the businessman's first wife. The young women allegedly shamed the clan with dating and other practices.

The three defendants deny the charges, and say it was all an unfortunate accident that they had nothing to do with.

But in the murder trial the prosecution played a secretly recorded tape of remarks the father, Mohammad Shafia, made to his son Hamed in the weeks after the deaths: "Even if they hoist me up onto a gallows, nothing is more dear to me than my honor."   Continued...