A murder that occurred in Texas in 2012 has just been officially identified as an Islamic honor killing, joining the nearly 30 honor killings that occur every year in the United States. The good news is that the Department of Justice is researching the best way to collect data on honor violence in the U.S., and states it will have a plan released this year. The State Department now considers forced genital mutilation and forced marriage as forms of honor violence, and has task forces set up on each issue.
By Wilmot Proviso
An Iranian activist in Houston was allegedly murdered by Jordanian Muslim immigrants in an “honor killing,” investigators say, because the activist helped convert the family’s daughter to Christianity.
Gelareh Bagherzadeh, a 30-year-old researcher, was gunned down outside of her parents’ home in 2012 along with her boyfriend’s twin brother, Coty Beavers. Ali Irsan, 57, was charged with her murder on April 22, along with his wife and son.
Bagherzadeh, her boyfriend, and his brother all apparently played a significant role in converting Irsan’s daughter Nesreen to Christianity.
“Nesreen Irsan would not succumb to her father’s complete domination and rule of her. And she left his home without his permission and went into hiding,” Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson told reporters.
“These two murders are linked by the belief on the defendant’s part that his honor as a father and a Muslim has been violated by his daughter, who defied his rule and married a Christian man.”
Also charged were Ali Irsan’s wife, Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh, and his 21-year-old son Nasim. While not implicated in the murder, Irsan’s daughter Nadia is charged with stalking her sister to ascertain her whereabouts.
The family released a statement commending the police department for the arrests.
“The family is overjoyed about the latest development in their daughter’s case,” the statement read.
“They appreciate the tireless efforts of the DA’s office and HPD in Gelareh’s case. Today, they are happy but still extremely sad. They have suffered in the past 39 months and nothing will bring their precious daughter back. Emotions are raw as they relive the the horrific memories.”
Irsan, as well as his wife and daughter Nadia, have already been in custody for over a year as part of what’s described as a “massive fraud investigation.” While they had been suspects in the murder previously, the fact that the Irsans were incarcerated gave the police time to put together a solid case against them in the murder of Bagherzadeh.
“People want justice and they want justice yesterday,” said Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. “But in order for there to be true justice, it does require meticulous work and detail.”