Queen’s student Irfan Tahiri stood outside the Frontenac County Courthouse on Sunday to hear the Shafia trial’s verdict.
Tahiri is Canadian-born , with Afghan roots and has followed the three-month trial surrounding the honour killings.
Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya and son Hamed plead not guilty to killing four female family members in 2009. Shortly after 1 p.m. on Sunday, all three were found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder.
“I think the verdict is true. I think they were guilty,” Tahiri, ArtSci ’14, said. “The one thing that I really take issue … is sort of branding all Afghans, or branding all Muslims as barbaric, as the otherness people who don’t really have the shared values that we do.”
A crowd of over 50 people gathered to watch the handcuffed Shafias leave the courthouse. The crowd cheered and applauded as the Crown attorney walked out of the courthouse after the trial.
According to the United Nations news release on domestic violence in Mar. 4, 2010, there are as many as 5,000 honour killings a year globally. Most of them aren’t reported by the media at all.
The Vancouver Sun reported in Jan. 29 that since 2005 there have been 11 victims of honour killings in Canada and eight convictions have been made. This includes Sunday’s conviction.
Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger described the crime to the courtroom as “a sick notion of honour that has absolutely no place in any civilized society.”
At a press conference following the delivery of the verdict, the chief Crown prosecutor Gerard Laarhuis said that this is a “good day for Canadian justice.”
“This verdict sends a very clear message about our Canadian values and the core principles in a free and democratic society that all Canadians enjoy and even visitors to Canada enjoy,” Laarhuis said.
Gender Studies professor Audrey Kobayashi said the general public has a “precedential and uninformed” perception of Afghans and Muslims.
“Honour killing is not something that is part of the Islamic religion,” she said.
Kobayashi said she’s pleased that Canada has chosen to not treat honour killings differently from regular crimes.
“This is a trial of the murder of four innocent women. Not a trial of Islam,” Kobayashi said.