The Montreal Gazette - August 1, 2009
Eldest daughter of Kingston canal murder suspect attempted to marry
By Paul Cherry, Gazette crime reporter
During the two years her family lived in Canada, Zainab Shafia was constantly at odds with her parents as she pushed for more freedom from their conservative ways, says the man who was married to the 19-year-old woman for one day shortly before she was killed.
Shafia was killed on June 30, along with her two sisters – Sahari, 17, and Geeti, 13, – and Rona Amir Mohammad, 50, as her family was returning from Niagara Falls to St. Léonard.
Charged with first-degree murder in all four homicides is the sisters’ father Mohammad Shafia, 56, along with their mother Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 39, and their brother Hamed Shafia, 18.
The bodies of all four victims were discovered in a car submerged in the Rideau Canal at the Kingston Mills Locks.
The Kingston police confirmed last week that they are investigating the possibility the homicides were part of what Rona Amir Mohammad’s relatives allege were so-called honour killings. Mohammad was Shafia’s first wife, a detail he tried to conceal from the Kingston police after the bodies were found.
Before being arrested last week, Shafia and his second wife also theorized that their oldest daughter took their Nissan without their permission during a stop in their trip, didn’t have a driver’s license and probably caused an accident that killed all four. The Kingston police have said they don’t believe this theory at all.
There are now details emerging about Zainab’s relationship with her parents and how she chafed under their tight control after the family moved to Canada from Dubai two years ago.
Ammar Wahid, a 26-year-old Montrealer, told The Gazette that he and Zainab were married in May but that immediately after the religious ceremony her parents convinced her to end the union.
“She was very friendly and very attractive. I wouldn’t say we fell in love right away. But the more we got to know each other the more we fell in love. I asked her to marry me. She said she wanted to marry me but her parents weren’t happy with it.
“It’s the culture. They didn’t want to accept someone from outside their country,” said Wahid who is from Pakistan.
The Shafia family was originally from Afghanistan but moved to Dubai in the 1990s. Mohammad Shafia married both his wives in Afghanistan where it is legal for a man to marry more than one woman.
Wahid said Zainab talked often of her father and how he tried to control her. He also said he believes Zainab was engaged to another man “about 18 months ago.”
“I think her parents were happy with that engagement but she wasn’t and she broke it off after six months,” Wahid said of the woman he met while both were taking courses at the same school two years ago.
Zainab had just arrived in Canada but made friends quickly, he said.
“She was the kind of person everyone got along with. She had quite a few friends at school despite being new there.”
Wahid said he and Zainab were married at a mosque in St. Léonard on May 19. They decided to end the union the following day after seeing how both of their families reacted. They tried to hold a reception but no one from Wahid’s side of the family showed up and Zainab’s parents convinced her to end it. Wahid said he never filed the document to have the marriage officially recognized in Quebec.
Wahid said he was disappointed but felt “there was nothing I could do about it. It’s about the culture. They wanted to follow their culture.”
Zainab’s father couldn’t accept that Wahid was from Pakistan and not Afghanistan, Wahid said.
“My parents didn’t approve but they said I was old enough to do what I wanted.”
According to a report in the Toronto Sun, Zainab was planning to announce her engagement to Hussain Hyderi, a 27-year-old Montrealer, the day after she was killed. The man told the newspaper that he “never loved anyone as much as I loved Zainab.”
A St. Léonard resident with the same family name is on a list of people the accused can not communicate with while their case is before the courts.
The Gazette tried to contact the person on the list last week but a relative said he would only have something to say after the murder case is over.
Wahid said Mohammad Shafia did not only disapprove of Zainab’s choice in men. He said her father debated his daughter on whether she should work or continue to pursue her education. She left her family’s home in St. Léonard earlier this year after arguing over such a topic, Wahid said, adding he was shocked when he learned Zainab’s body had been found in Kingston.
He thought Zainab and her father had patched things up in June, after Mohammad Shafia returned from a trip. Wahid said he had little reason to suspect wrongdoing. That changed when a Kingston police detective travelled to Montreal, before any charges were laid, to talk to Wahid. When the investigator asked questions about his relationship with Zainab, Wahid said he realized there might have been something more sinister involved.
“The last time we spoke was two weeks before she passed away,” he said. “She called me, I think, and said she was happy at home. Her father had just come back from Dubai and she asked him for forgiveness and he forgave her. She said ‘my parents are letting me go out, letting me go to work’ and stuff like that. I said ‘I’m happy for you. At least you got your freedom.’ Two weeks after that conversation I sent her an email. I never got the reply.”
This article was found at:
RELATED ARTICLES ON THIS BLOG
Ontario father and son plead guilty to murdering teen girl to protect the 'honour' of her family
Girl, Interrupted - Is this a case of Islamic honour killing or domestic violence?
Victim in multiple 'honour killings' attempted to marry just weeks before her murder
Canadian police investigate relative's claims that 4 women and girls were murdered in so-called 'honour killings'
Canadian parents and son charged with 4 murders, police investigate probable 'honour killing' motive
Canadian judge convicts father for threatening violence against daughter in the name of honour
New Canadian immigration guide says multiculturalism no excuse for barbaric practices like honour crimes, forced marriages, genital mutilation
Montreal mother charged with attempted murder of daughter for staying out late in so-called 'honour' crime
Canadian social worker exposes the religious and cultural assumptions at the root of honour killings
UN estimates 5000 women and girls murdered annually in so-called 'honour killings'
The difference between 'honor killings' and domestic violence
Ending gender apartheid and misogyny only way to cure cancer of 'honour killings'
A war of words over honour killings
Expert: Honour killings 'act of purifying through blood'
Interview with author of new book by Jordanian journalist, Murder in the Name of Honor
Famous Egyptian feminist tackles religious fundamentalism to protect women and girls, but gets no honour in her own country
'Honour killings' and related abuse on the rise in the UK, but much remains undetected and hidden
As Europe begins to address problem of 'honour killings', Islamic scholars & advocates question Muslim traditions
Saudi Princess fears execution or honour killing of herself and child, granted secret asylum in U.K.
Jordanian girl strangled slowly for family's honour
Five women beaten and buried alive in Pakistan 'honour killing'
Turkish teen buried alive by relatives in gruesome 'honour' killing
Honour killings in India estimated to be among the highest per capita in the world
Young Indian couple from different castes electrically tortured and murdered by girl's remorseless father and uncle
Afghan TV show allows women wearing mask to speak on taboo subjects such as domestic violence, rape and child trafficking
UN report says child brides, forced marriage, slavery, extreme violence against women widespread in Afghanistan
Afghan girls have educational dreams and goals but few are free to pursue them despite constitutional rights
Afghan teen in US for surgery after Taliban husband cut off her nose must also recover emotionally from lifetime of brutal abuse
Afghan teen who had nose and ears cut off by order of Taliban court is in U.S. for reconstructive surgery
Afghanistan's child 'brides' face life of violence, some suicides by fire are actually disguised murders
Women's rights 'in decline' in Afghanistan eight years after fall of the Taliban
Afghan Women Slowly Gaining Protection
Afghanistan's Girl Gap
Police arrest Mullah for marrying off girl, aged 7
Education of girls crucial first step in fighting religious extremism
Afghan schoolgirls burned by acid in attack by men on motorcycle
10 arrested in Taliban-ordered acid attack on Afghan schoolgirls
Afghan girl says acid attack won't stop her lessons
Afghan Schoolgirls Undeterred by Attack
Afghan authorities probe another possible schoolgirl poisoning
The Afghan women [and girls] jailed for being victims of rape
Afghanistan passes controversial law allowing rapists to avoid prosecution by paying 'blood money' to victims
Revised Afghan marriage law still allows child brides and violence towards women
Some Afghan women want West to back off 'rape law'
Top Afghan cleric defends marriage law
Taleban 'kill love affair couple'
Video of Taliban Flogging Rattles Pakistan
Islamist extremists fear educated girls, blow up hundreds of schools in Pakistan