Religion

Muslim Parents Sentenced To Life In Prison After 'Honor Killing' Teen Daughter For Having Sex

| by Nik Bonopartis
Lareeb Khan, 19Lareeb Khan, 19

On Dec. 2, Pakistani-born parents learned that they will spend the rest of their lives in a German prison after reportedly murdering their daughter for having sex and bringing "dishonor" to the family.

Azadullah Khan, 52, and his wife, 42-year-old Shazia, had been arguing with their 19-year-old daughter Lareeb because the teenager had stopped wearing her headscarf and had spent several nights away from the family's home in Darmstadt, Germany, the Daily Mail reported in September. Things reached a boiling point in January when local police wrote a letter to the Khans and told them that Lareeb had been caught stealing condoms at a store, but had been let off with a warning.

That night, after an argument with Lareeb, the parents sent their younger daughter, 14-year-old Neda, to stay with relatives and waited for Lareeb to fall asleep. They snuck into her bedroom, and Shazia Khan watched as her husband strangled her teenage daughter to death, prosecutors told a German court.

The enraged parents then allegedly dressed their daughter's corpse in her usual clothes, put her body in a wheelchair, and wheeled her to their car, which they drove to a secluded area. The parents dumped their daughter's body down an embankment and planned to tell authorities Lareeb had run away, but quickly folded and confessed after Lareeb's body was found the next day, according to the Mail.

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Shazia Khan pleaded innocence, telling the court she wasn't physically strong enough to stop her husband from killing Lareeb. But Neda, the younger daughter, told the court that her mother was the de facto head of the household, and the murder could not have happened if she didn't approve.

"My momma was not suppressed, she could do what she wanted," Neda said, according to the Mail. "She used to hit me with a stick."

During the sentencing, Judge Volker Wagner said Shazia was "clearly guilty of murder" and not just disposing of the body, the Mail reported on Dec. 2. He added that the parents were more concerned about scandal in the local Muslim community than they were about their daughter's life.

'It was worth killing your daughter for," Wagner said. "A woman cannot be so physically weak that she doesn't intervene in the murder of her own daughter and instead watches it for five minutes."

Azadullah and Shazia Khan reportedly intended for Lareeb to enter an arranged marriage of their choosing, prosecutors told the court, and they did not approve of Lareeb's relationship with a 23-year-old man named Raheel.

The trial generated headlines and intense interest in Germany, which is among several European countries struggling with assimilating Muslim immigrants. As refugees add to the swelling number of Muslim immigrants in the country of 80 million, German leaders have expressed concern that the immigrants aren't adopting the cultural values of their new home, a worry echoed by Wagner during the Khans' trial.

Wagner rejected arguments raised by the couple's attorney, Axel Kollbach, who asked the judge to consider their "cultural background" before sentencing them.

"You lived in two cultural worlds," Wagner told the Khans. "It is not the case that you may not be allowed to live in your own culture. But you must also deal with our values."

Germany is home to the largest Muslim population -- 4.8 million -- of any country in Europe, according to the Pew Research Center. That number could reach 20 million within five years, the Bavarian State Newspaper reported.

Although his wife maintained her innocence, Azadullah Khan told the court he regretted killing his daughter.

"I would undo it all if I could," he said. "I accept any punishment."

Sources: Daily Mail (2), Pew Research CenterBayerische Staatszeitung (Bavarian State Newspaper) / Photo source: Daily Mail