A Pakistani man who executed his sister with a bullet to the head because she married a Christian man said he had “no choice” but to kill her because of her shameful act that brought dishonor on her family.
While his younger sister, Tasleem, was sitting in their kitchen with their mother and sister, Mubeen Rajhu shot her in the head at their home in Lahore this past August.
Eighteen-year-old Tasleem had married a Christian man named Jehangir, who even agreed to convert to Islam to please her family, but this wasn’t sufficient to stop her brother from killing her.
Rajhu now faces life in prison, but he has no regrets about the “honor killing,” which he claims was the right thing to do.
“I could not let it go. It was all I could think about. I had to kill her,” Rajhu said matter-of-factly in a video interview released by the Associated Press. “I had no choice.”
In the interview, Rajhu said he faced increasing pressure from neighbors and coworkers to do something about his sister’s situation.
Other members of the Muslim community in Lahore expressed support for Rajhu’s actions, suggesting his actions were the noble option.
“I am proud of this man that he has done the right thing, to kill her,” one neighbor named Babar Ali said in the interview. “We cannot allow anyone to marry outside our religion. He did the right thing.”
Tasleem’s father Mohammed Naseer Rajhu blames his daughter for her own death, and for the disgrace she brought to the family.
“My family is destroyed,” he said. “Everything is destroyed only because of this shameful girl. Even after death I am destroyed because of her.”
As Pamela Geller has observed, Tasleem’s death restored honor to her family according to the Islamic code, which places honor killings in a different class from murder. The laws of many Muslim countries such as Jordan and Syria reflect this discrepancy, with significantly reduced penalties for honor killings as compared to other murders.
Geller also noted that Muslims commit 91 percent of all honor killings worldwide, and even in the United States with its small Islamic population, 84 percent of honor killings are carried out by Muslims.
Honor killings are on the rise in Pakistan, and the overwhelming majority of victims are women. According to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 1,184 people died from honor killings last year, only 88 of them men. In 2014, the number was 1,005, and the year before it was 869.
Local Christians in Lahore say they are living in fear since Tasleem’s death, and gunmen have already fired bullets into the homes of Christians living in the area.
“We have been scared since the killing took place,” one Christian said. “There are just a few houses of Christians here, but we have nowhere else to go.”
Christians are notoriously vulnerable in Pakistan, despite laws that guarantee their rights to religious freedom. Many Christians and other minorities have accused the government of doing little to protect them, as violence against Christians is rarely punished.
Prejudice against Christians is inculcated at an early age in Pakistan, even in the country’s schools.
Earlier this year, a study on textbooks used in Pakistan’s public schools found “deeply troubling content” in the representation of Christians as fundamentally inferior to Muslims.
The comprehensive report, Teaching Intolerance in Pakistan: Religious Bias in Public School Textbooks, found that the textbooks are used to confer “public shaming” on Christians and other minorities, indoctrinating schoolchildren with a pro-Muslim prejudice from the earliest ages.
“Public shaming begins at a very young age,” the report found, and the Pakistani curriculum teaches that religious minorities, particularly Christians and Hindus, are “nefarious, violent, and tyrannical by nature.”
Pakistan is overwhelmingly Muslim, with Christians making up less than 2% of the population.
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