"Shit On Their Graves"–An "Honor" Murderer Speaks About The Daughters And First Wife He Murdered

This is beyond revolting and enraging:

“I say to myself, ‘You did well.’ Would they come back to life a hundred times for you to do the same again?” Mohammad Shafia was recorded as saying to Yahya after she appeared to express some remorse about the deaths of the two younger girls a few days after they drowned.

“No, Tooba, they were treacherous,” he said, the Vancouver Sun reported.

“They were treacherous. They betrayed both themselves and us. Like this woman standing on the side of the road and if you stop the car, she would go with you anywhere. … They’re gone now; shit on their graves.”

He added the next day: “I am happy and my conscience is clear. … They haven’t done good and God punished them,” the Montreal Gazette reported.

Their “betrayal” was having boyfriends. He murdered his three daughters and his first wife. See their pictures and more of the story here.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://www.russellturpin.com/ rturpin

    The moral here is easy. If you’re a Muslim woman in a traditional community: get the hell out.

  • laurentweppe

    Have you noticed? When a control freak who hated the women in his family because they did not submit to the domestic dictatorship he dreamed to build end up killing them, it’s always either an “honor killing” or a “crime of passion”.

    You’ll almost never see someone saying “this control freak who hated the women in his family because they did not submit to the domestic dictatorship he dreamed to build killed them because they did not submit to the domestic dictatorship he dreamed to build“. It’s like people are trying to dilute the responsibility of the killer: it’s either the fault of the killer “religion” (read: ethnicity, because nothing pleads in favor of personal responsability like ethno-cultural determinism) or it’s because the poor guy was too passionate and loved his victim too much. That the killer, once caught, may try to invent stupid excuses to justify his murder is understandable, but to see people taking his lame attempts at subterfuge always baffles me.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      I think that’s a false dichotomy in motives. It’s not like it’s only his domineering character or only his patriarchal religion. The two can mutually reinforce one another in a feedback loop.

      And not all criticism of variants of Islam is racist or is at all assuming any kind of “ethno-determinism” as though it is saying that somehow ethnicity makes this monstrosity inevitable. This is an atheist blog. You will find a lot of people here who are consistent in really thinking that religion is a big part of the problem even when criticizing people who look like they do and come from similar ethnic backgrounds to their own.

      This is not to deny that racism is sometimes in our culture and even in some pockets of atheism can be couched in diverting attacks on Islamic teachings. But for the most part in my experience, the distinctively atheist attacks on Islam, especially of left wing varieties, are part and parcel of their attacks on religion in general and almost indistinguishable from their mercilessness towards Christianity. The default assumption reading my commenters should not be that this is just racism. That’s not an honest or fair reading of their demonstrable worldviews.

    • laurentweppe

      It’s not like it’s only his domineering character or only his patriarchal religion. The two can mutually reinforce one another in a feedback loop.

      Even so, this does not seems at all to be a chicken or egg situation: his daughters were trying to leave their home because of the domestic abuse he inflicted to them and they had already reported him to the authorities: his domestic tyranny was on the verge of collapsing and he acted like a mobster trying to get rid of witnesses. It seems to me that his domineering personaliy was clearly the, well, dominant cause of his behavior.
      *****
      *****

      This is an atheist blog yada yada yada

      I’m not talking about the content of this blog: I’m talking about the way the media at large report news regarding “honour killings”:
      First, when a mysoginistic domestic tyran murder a woman close to him the term “honour killing” is rarely used if the killer is not muslim, even if the killer’s MO, motives and justifications after the fact are nearly identical to the ones found with muslim “honour killers”. This double-standard reinforce the unsubstantiated meme that “Muslims” are much more likely than anyone else to kill women out of spite.
      Second, the way the media portrait “honour killings” and especially the “honour killers” is fucking insulting; according to this portrayal, “honour killers” are constrained by their religious background to act that way, like an impulse, something they cannot not do: you know, like the rapist who can’t control his hormones or the scorned lover who can’t bear the pain that afflict his soul when he beats to death his ex. Need I remind you that Mohammad Shafia deliberatly tried to make his killing pass as an accident by lying to the cops when he pretended that his daughter had taken the car where she died without his permission and crashed it into the canal? That’s not the behavior of someone who’s constrained: that’s the behavior of a cold-blooded sociopath trying to get away with premeditated murder.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      The attempts to make it look like an accident are consistent with his having “honor killing” motivations since he did not want to go to jail.

      I also think that just having the same psychology as “honor killers” but not coming from an “honor culture” is not enough to count as performing “honor killing”. It has a cultural basis and cultural forms that guide it. Even though the same pathology arises in other cases of men who murder their families, not being influenced by sets of existing norms at work in existing cultures makes a key difference.

      And, yes, he is a cold blooded sociopath trying to get away with murder. But again I don’t see why this is inconsistent with his believing an interpretation of his religion which both put the categories in his head by which he judged his daughters and first wife guilty of something infuriating and in violation of his honor, put the idea in his head that they deserved death, and plays a constitutive role in the way he rationalizes his murders to himself. Sometimes extremist religious beliefs are sincerely held and can sincerely inspire actions and soothe crooked consciences. I would need to see more evidence to know that’s not what’s happening here.

      None of this is to say that he may not have murdered his family in a different religious context (or in a non-religious context) from the same pathology. But in his case, this seems to be part of the factors in its expression.

    • laurentweppe

      Even though the same pathology arises in other cases of men who murder their families, not being influenced by sets of existing norms at work in existing cultures makes a key difference.

      Which difference? You’re basically telling me that two murderers who kill the same kind of people for the same reasons are nonetheless widely different depending of their cultural background? How is that not a double standard?
      *****
      *****

      And, yes, he is a cold blooded sociopath trying to get away with murder. But again I don’t see why this is inconsistent with [...] the way he rationalizes his murders to himself

      Why is that inconsistent? He’s a sociopath for Monad’s sake: he is not rationalizing his murders to himself. Unless you have a paralimbic system in working order, you do not need to rationalize things to yourself:
      Shafia -> sociopatic killer -> deficient paralimbic system -> no need for self-rationalization.
      In fact I suspect that his religious schtick is nothing but (or little more) his last line of defense: society tends to fear and hate psychopaths, but it also tends to pity fanatics (remember that it is acting like a raving mad fanatic that spared Zacarias Moussaoui the needle): by playing the role of the insane fanatic, Shafia may actually be trying to cushion his sentence, and I would not be surprised if such a gambit ended up working.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      When the cultural background means that your actions are not just your isolated brain snap but your response to your understanding of what a tradition’s rules require of you, then you are acting in conformity with your tradition and acting in a traditional form. This matters because to some extent it is quite likely you would not be engaged in this behavior without believing it was required by your tradition.

      When there is an enculturation in which certain values and traditions structure when you think violence is not only justified but necessary, that sort of environmental influence could structure your sociopathy or psychopathy so that it manifests in ways you think are actually moral. Beliefs do matter.

    • laurentweppe

      This matters because to some extent it is quite likely you would not be engaged in this behavior without believing it was required by your tradition.

      The problem with this case is that you started by assuming that the “betrayal” which caused Shafia to kill his children was the fact that they had boyfriends. This is probably what Shafia wants you to believe, but it seems much more likely that Shafia killed his children because they had warned the authorities about his abusive behavior: in other words, Shafia had a motive (hidding his dirty secrets) which exists regardless of his religious and cultural origins.

    • http://www.russellturpin.com/ rturpin

      The article says his wife and son also are charged in the killings. Now, yes, people with pathologies sometimes find each other. But one of the striking things about honor killings is how often they involve multiple assailants or conspirators, where an uncle or cousins or wife helps the father or brother.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      Well, it does make sense that sociopathy and psychopathy are genetically based and then activated to violent tendencies with the right environmental factors. I imagine that shared genetics plus shared environment (as one finds with family) can bring it out in common. But, nonetheless, it is distinctly possible to me that even neurotypical people can be either roped in by psychopaths under cultural or religious pressure and that it’s possible that neurotypical people in general can be led to abnormal cruelty when convinced that it is morally necessary and required by the absolute authority of God.

      Treating psychopathy or sociopathy as phenomena totally divorced from culture (including even religion) in how or whether it is going to manifest dangerously is as simplistic as thinking that cultures or religions are the sole cause in all evil actions done by their members. Both can be co-determinants in ways that make each of them individually both necessary and not sufficient.

  • San Ban

    I await the day when journalists stop referring to “honour killings” and call it like it is: “murder in the name of his imagined lost honour.”

  • cbc

    “the two other girls contacted officials appealing to be removed from their home because of domestic violence.” Sickening. On all points.

  • Seamus Ruah

    Looking forward to hearing about his prison rape…wonder who will be his new husband?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      Ugh, please no rape fantasies here.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

    Looking at his name, it’s creepy that it looks like a neologism of Sharia and Mafia.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    A lack of remorse should tell the parole hearing something in 20 to 30 years time.

    “[T]here is no value of life without honour”. Honour is about self worth and about social standing. When you look in the mirror how does the face staring back at you see you? Have you lived morally and rightly even when an easier path could have been taken? Murder is not a moral action. Killing your own family is so morally abhorrent as to be inconceivable to anyone with an ounce of love in them.

    If one’s daughter does something that one don’t approve of and one believes that killing them is better than living with the stigma of what they have or might do then one’s priorities are wrong. One doesn’t correct action by killing. That is assuming that anything that they did could remotely be described as wrong in the first place. “Honour” killings sicken me as they should anyone with a sense of honour.

  • lordshipmayhem

    The son has also been charged in complicity. Assuming that he is guilty, that also is consistent with “honour” killings – father and son, working together, and wife if not participating at least keeping her mouth shut, possibly trash-talking the victim.

    The perpetrators know that we in the West believe it to be wrong, and that there are laws against it, and the punishment is, at the least, a long term of incarceration, and at the other extreme some form involving the death of the perpetrators. At any rate, the punishment for deliberately killing another human being is as high as that jurisdiction can stomach. So they try to make it look like an accident, or like some random killing by a third party.

    The supposed sin is that involving the creation of the individual’s own identity separate from the father. They’re dating people the father does not approve of, they’re not wearing the clothes the father insists on, or wearing clothes the father insists they desist from. They’re not being obedient little slaves.

    It’s also, I note, done most frequently by those who are not born and raised in the West – among those who are Western-born offspring of immigrants from countries where honour killings are considered acceptable, we don’t see this that often. It is a combination of control-freak father, religion and culture. Take away one aspect, and the honour killings stop.

    And it is not just girls who can be subject to “honour” killings. I happen to know one happened in my neck of the woods, with a teen boy falling to his death from a high balcony. The family returned to their home country before the police could finish their investigation.


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