Germany: Wave of Muslim Honor Killings
- The court heard how Amer K. stabbed the mother of his three children in the chest and neck more than twenty times with a large kitchen knife, because he thought she wanted to divorce him.
- “Then he takes the knife and plunges it into her chest, [penetrating] the pericardium and heart muscle. A second stab opens the left abdominal cavity. Nurettin B. then pulls out the ax. With the blunt side he hits her head, cracking her skull. Then he grabs the rope. On one end he ties a gibbet knot around her neck, then he ties the other end to the trailer hitch on [his car]… He races through the streets at 80 km/h [until] the rope breaks.” — State Prosecutor Ann-Kristin Fröhlich, reconstructing the husband’s actions.
- In Ahaus, a 27-year-old Nigerian asylum seeker stabbed to death a 22-year-old woman after she seemingly offended his honor by rejecting his romantic advances.
The trial of a Kurdish man who tied one of his three wives to the back of a car and dragged her through the streets of a town in Lower Saxony has drawn attention to an outbreak of Muslim honor violence in Germany.
Honor violence — ranging from emotional abuse to physical and sexual violence to murder — is usually carried out by male family members against female family members who are perceived to have brought shame upon a family or clan.
Offenses include refusing to agree to an arranged marriage, entering into a relationship with a non-Muslim or someone not approved by the family, refusing to stay in an abusive marriage or living an excessively Western lifestyle. In practice, however, the lines between crimes of honor and crimes of passion are often blurred and any challenge to male authority can elicit retribution, which is sometimes staggeringly brutal.
On May 22, a court in Hanover heard how a 39-year-old Turkish-born Kurd named Nurettin B. attempted to murder his second wife, Kader K., 28, after she asked him to provide financial support for their two-year-old son. State Prosecutor Ann-Kristin Fröhlich reconstructed Nurettin B.’s actions:
“At around 6PM on November 20, 2016, Nurettin B. got into his car in Hamelin to meet Kader K. The trunk contained a knife, an ax and a rope. Sitting on the back seat of the car was their two-year-old son, who had spent the weekend with him. On the street, the former couple got into an argument and he begins hitting her. Then he takes the knife and plunges it into her chest. The 12.4 centimeter long blade penetrates the pericardium and heart muscle. A second stab opens the left abdominal cavity. Nurettin B. then pulls out the ax. With the blunt side he hits her head and upper body, cracking her skull.
“Then he grabs the rope. On one end he ties a gibbet knot around her neck, then he ties the other end to the trailer hitch on the back of his black VW Passat. Nurettin B. steps on the gas. He races through the streets at 80 km/h (50 mph). After 208 meters (680 feet) the rope breaks. Kader K. is hurled against the curb. Nurettin B. drives to the police station to turn himself in. The child is still sitting in the back seat.”
Presiding Judge Wolfgang Rosenbusch asked Kader K., who was comatose for weeks, to tell her side of the story. She said “the horror” began immediately after their Islamic sharia wedding (the marriage is not valid according to German law) in March 2013, when Nurettin B. prohibited her from having any contact with friends and family. She was allowed to leave the house only for grocery shopping and medical visits. She was not allowed to have a mobile phone. Rosenbusch asked: “Does he have a problem with women?” Kader K. replied: “He believes women are slaves; they must keep silent.”
Nurettin B. has confessed to the crime but insists it was not premeditated. He has been charged with attempted murder and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The picturesque town of Hamelin, Germany was the scene of horrific honor violence, when a Turkish-born Kurd named Nurettin B. attempted to murder one of his three wives. (Image source: Martin Möller/Wikimedia Commons)
On May 9, a court in Kiel sentenced 35-year-old Turkish man to two-and-a-half years in prison for shooting his estranged wife in both knees and permanently laming her, in the hope that she would be unattractive to other men. The court heard how the man took his wife to the back of a local mosque after Friday prayers, accused her of offending his honor and shot her, saying: “Now you can no longer walk. You will stay at home.”
In court, however, the woman, possibly under pressure from her family or the mosque, told the court that they couple had reconciled and would attend marriage counselling. Some observers surmised that the dispute may have been resolved in a sharia court. In any event, the German court allowed the man to return home with his wife and it remains unclear if and when he will serve his sentence.
In Münster, a court sentenced a 36-year-old Lebanese man named Amer K. to 12 years in prison for stabbing his wife to death. The court heard how Amer K. stabbed 26-year-old Fatima S., the mother of his three children, in the chest and neck more than twenty times with a large kitchen knife because he thought she wanted to divorce him.
Meanwhile, a court in Hanau sentenced a 22-year-old Syrian refugee to twelve years in prison for stabbing to death his 30-year-old sister, Ramia A., with a kitchen knife. She was 23 weeks pregnant and was accused of having brought shame to her family. Her unborn child also died in the attack.
The true scale of Germany’s honor crime problem is unknown: many such crimes go unreported and reliable statistics do not exist. Empirical evidence indicates that honor violence — primarily, but not exclusively, the product of Muslim culture and Islamic law, sharia — has metastasized since Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed in some two million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
In March 2011, the Max Planck Institute published a landmark study on honor killings. The study analyzed all such crimes known to have occurred in Germany between 1996 and 2005. The report found that there were two honor killings in 1998 and 12 in 2004. By 2016, however, the number had jumped to more than 60, an increase of 400%, according to the website Ehrenmord.
The actual number of honor crimes presumably is much higher. Increased censorship by the police and the media, aimed at stemming anti-immigration sentiments, makes it impossible to know the names and national origins of many victims or perpetrators, or the true circumstances surrounding many murders, which often appear to be honor killings but are downplayed as “domestic disputes” (Familienangelegenheiten).
2017 is nevertheless on track to be a record year for honor violence in Germany; in the first five months of this year, there have been at least 30 honor killings, including the following:
May 18. In Berlin, a 32-year-old Bosnian, Edin A., murdered his former girlfriend, a 35-year-old German woman named Michelle E., after she ended their abusive relationship. He also abducted and tortured her 12-year-old son, who was forced to watch his mother’s murder. Neighbors said they had repeatedly alerted the police about Edin A.’s violent behavior, but the police did nothing.
May 17. In Pforzheim, a 53-year-old Tajik man stabbed to death his 50-year-old wife at her place of employment, a Christian daycare center. It remains unclear if the woman was a convert to Christianity.
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About the author
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. Follow Soeren Kern on Twitter and Facebook