Afshan Azad’s Courtroom Drama

Back in July, I wrote about Afshan Azad’s abuse by her father and brother. When they threatened to kill her for having a Hindu boyfriend, she fled to London; her father and brother were questioned and charged by police. Though Azad attempted to drop the charges, her brother and father were tried in court last week. She did not show up to court to testify against them.

Afshan Azad.

Coverage around Azad’s court case is particularly sensationalized because of her work with the Harry Potter films. The Sydney Morning Herald republished a Daily Mail story and titled it, “Harry Potter actress Afshan Azad beaten and abused,” as if the outlet was covering her actual assault (which happened in May), rather than the court case. The Herald followed the Daily Mail’s initiative; their title was, “Harry Potter actress was beaten and branded a prostitute by her brother after dating man ‘who was not a Muslim.’”

The Australian upped the yellow journalism ante by publishing the headline, “Harry Potter actress Afshan Azad ‘missing’ in domestic violence case,” making it appear as if Azad has gone missing instead of not showing up to a trial. The Australian changed the title from the The Times’ original title, “Harry Potter star backs out of ‘honour crime’ trial,” which is a more accurate description of the case.

Part of the sensationalism of the media surrounding the case involves the details. Specifically, the “Muslim” details. The fact that Azad’s family is Muslim is emphasized in everything from the titles to the highlighted case details. To read most of the articles, one would believe that her family’s faith is more important than the fact that her father and brother assaulted her for dating someone they didn’t approve of. [Read more...]

A Family Affair: Afshan Azad’s Assault

Afshan Azad. Image via Solarpix / PR Photos.

When I watched Afshan Azad entering the Yule Ball as Padma Patil with Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I did not even think about whether or not she was a Muslim. Instead, like many Potter fans, I was thinking about Hermione, and how the two of them really just needed to get the Gryffindor together.

According to an article in the Daily Express, Azad was allegedly beaten because she was heard talking on the phone to her Hindu boyfriend. The article refers to her assault as an occurrence during what it calls a “family honor” row. Azad pressed charges against both her father and brother, but has since requested to drop the charges.

If there is one thing that irritates me more than self-righteous domestic abuse, it is the reasoning of “family honor.” The article utilizes the term as a buzzword, but does not really make any attempt to unpack what this term might mean, thus inviting the reader to homogenize Muslims.

Asra Nomani reflects about Azad’s story, and uses it as an opportunity to write about her own hardships choosing a partner outside of Islam, and the resistance she has met from the Muslim community. Why is it always about Asra? [Read more...]