Canadian values in spotlight after "honor killings"

Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:58pm EST
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By Julie Gordon

TORONTO (Reuters) - The "honor killing" of three teenaged Canadian girls by members of their own family has prompted soul-searching in pro-immigration Canada, as it protects minority religious freedoms and upholds its liberal laws.

Muslim groups said their religion could not be blamed for the quadruple murder - an elder relative was also killed in the gruesome outburst of family violence.

All four were found drowned inside a submerged Nissan Sentra that had been pushed into a canal near the eastern Ontario city of Kingston.

Government ministers were quick to condemn the killings, which the prosecution said took place after the three teenagers sought a more liberal lifestyle than the one forced on them by their overbearing Afghan Canadian father.

"Honor motivated violence is NOT culture, it is barbaric violence against women. Canada must never tolerate such misogyny as culture," Rona Ambrose, the government's minister in charge of women's rights, wrote on Twitter soon after the Sunday verdicts against the Montreal couple and their eldest son.

A Kingston jury found husband and wife Mohammad Shafia and Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and their son Hamed Mohammad Shafia guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. They face life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years.

The victims were three of Hamed's younger sisters and Mohammad Shafia's first wife in a polygamous marriage.

The case struck a chord in Canada, where growing immigration has led to clashes between Canadian values and the more restrictive traditions of immigrants like the Shafia family. Some Quebec communities recently made headlines by banning headscarves, matching curbs in parts of Europe.   Continued...

<p>Mohammad Shafia (C) and his son Hamed Shafia (top) leave the Frontenac County Courthouse in Kingston, Ontario January 29, 2012. REUTERS/Lars Hagberg</p>