Originally published in The Gospel Herald
A Pakistani Muslim man who shot his sister dead for marrying a Christian said that he did it for the sake of his family’s reputation.
Mubeen Rajhu, in an interview with the Associated Press, recounted the events that led him to kill his younger sister Tasleem, who was 18 years old.
Tasleem was seen going out with a Christian man named Jehangir, something that is not allowed for a Muslim girl like her. News about it spread in the neighborhood, and soon Rajhu’s friends began to taunt him, challenging him to do something and not allow the relationship to continue.
Rahju said he talked to his sister and asked her to stop seeing the man.
“I told her I would have no face to show at the mill, to show to my neighbors, so don’t do it. Don’t do it. But she wouldn’t listen,” he said.
He also asked her to swear on the Quran that she would not marry the man, and she did so out of fear.
However, Tasleem did what the family considered unacceptable: she married Jehangir in secret. She went out one day, saying she would buy medicine, and asked their younger brother to go with her.
The following day, Rahju forced his younger brother to tell him where they went and beat him up until he told him what happened. Tasleem had married Jehangir, and he went to court with them to be a witness at their wedding.
Hoping to appease her family and have them accept her new husband, Tasleem went home and spent a few days with them. While there, she always talked to her husband on the phone, planning the day when they would see each other again. As the days went on, Rahju’s anger over his sister’s actions grew until he could not take it anymore.
On August 14, the seventh day after she returned home, Rahju took out his gun and, without any word, shot Tasleem to death. He said he had no choice but to do it.
“I could not let it go. It was all I could think about,” he said. “I had to kill her. There was no choice.”
Although Tasleem was brutally murdered, Rahju received praise from people in their neighborhood who affirmed that he did the right thing.
“I am proud of this man that he has done the right thing, to kill her,” one of his neighbors said. “We cannot allow anyone to marry outside our religion. He did the right thing.”
Honor killing, which is done to spare one’s family from shame, is widely accepted in Pakistan. Even the law provides a legal loophole by which the murderer can be forgiven.
Ironically, as society becomes more modern, honor killings are also increasing in number, and most of the victims are women. In 2013, there were 869 reported honor killings in Pakistan. In 2014, that number rose to 1 005. In 2015, there were 1 184 people who died from honor killings. Only 88 of them are men.
Honor killings are often the result of Pakistani women’s refusal to an arranged marriage. Sometimes, it also happens when women attempt to get out of abusive relationships. Most of the time, the murder is committed by a relative of the victim.
Tasleem’s husband fled the village when she was killed. However, the small Christian community where he used to live suffered from threats and hostility from their Muslim neighbors who, at one time, fired shots at their houses.
Pakistan ranks sixth in Open Doors’ list of countries where Christians are most persecuted.
According to the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), the Pakistani government continues to “perpetrate and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations.”