The Murder Of A Turkish Woman In Berlin; A German Court Goes Face-To-Face With Honor Killings

By Sven Roebel Hatin Sürücü tried to live her own life — and may have been killed for it. The 23-year-old Turkish woman was shot point-blank in the face in February in Berlin. Many believe her own family was behind the murder and her brother is now on trial. When Hatin Sürücü was killed, walking on the sidewalk near her home in Berlin’s Tempelhof neigborhood, she was holding a cigarette. It was a French Gauloises, her favorite brand, and while emergency medical personnel tried to revive her with adrenaline shots and electroshocks, her cigarette slowly burned out between the middle and index fingers of her left hand. The photos taken by police at the murder scene in Berlin show many fine streams of blood flowing from the young woman’s head and merging in a dark, shiny pool. It looks almost as though someone had carefully combed Hatin’s long, dark hair as her head lay on the sidewalk. Her opened pack of cigarettes protrudes from the breast pocket of her corduroy jacket, a dark blue cardboard box with an advertising slogan printed on it in French: “Liberte toujours” — “Freedom forever.” The district attorney’s office in Berlin is convinced that Sürücü died on the evening of Feb. 7 because she had adopted the cigarette pack slogan as her own. Because she felt that being able to smoke in public was one of life’s ordinary freedoms. Because she had the courage to walk around without a head scarf. Because she felt it was her right to live in her own apartment and to disobey the men in her family — and to decide for herself who to love and who not to love. The murderer shot the 23-year-old Hatin Sürücü three times in the face, in rapid succession and at point-blank range, using a 7.65 mm pistol. It was like an execution. According to investigators in the case, the shots that killed this single mother of a six-year-old son represent the last stage in an Arab ritual intended to restore what the killer believed was the “family honor.” In a Berlin criminal court on Wednesday, three of her brothers will face charges of having maliciously killed their defenseless sister. Investigators believe that the defendants may have carried out the execution as part of a death sentence imposed by a “family council,” which assigned the role of executioner to the youngest son, 19-year-old Ayhan, while his brothers, Mütlü, 26, and Alpaslan, 24, were responsible for obtaining the pistol and planning the murder. The men have either denied the charges or refused to comment, but this isn’t the only problem authorities have encountered in the case. The case has long since become a matter of public debate that extends well beyond the articles of criminal law. Germans want to know what’s wrong with a country that has seen an estimated 50 so-called honor killings in the past decade. Why, people want to know, is Germany incapable of protecting its female citizens against violent attacks by Muslim husbands, fathers, or brothers? Some commentators have focused on the political symbolism that elevates the death of this attractive, modern woman to a kind of martyrdom, but they ignore the parallel world in which Sürücü was killed. If there’s any explanation for her death, the best place to look for it would be in Berlin’s heavily Turkish Kreuzberg district, where the presumed killers lived and where life follows two basic laws — the law of the neighborhood and the law of the Koran. On the one hand, there’s the Sürücü family’s four-room apartment on the fifth floor of a renovated building. The family prays five times a day and dogs, considered impure by devout Muslims, are barred from the apartment. Hatin’s archly conservative father, who comes from the Kurdish province of Erzurum in Turkey’s eastern Anatolia region, has lived in Germany for 24 years but hardly speaks a word of German. Her mother wears a head scarf, adding a veil when speaking with strangers. Ayhan, the suspected killer, grew up in this world. He is a well-behaved Muslim boy who honors his parents, text-messages secret love poems to his girlfriend and, even as a 19-year-old man, has no problem sleeping in a bunk bed in his childhood room. A different form of honor prevails in the streets of Kreuzberg. It’s the kind of honor that can be violated by as little as an unwanted glance into someone’s eyes. When this kind of honor is assailed, the way to regain respect might involve fists, knives, or even guns. Here, in the old territory of the notorious youth gang known as “36 Boys” after one of Kreuzberg’s zipcodes — Ayhan Sürücü is known by a different name. He calls himself “Carlito,” after the hero in the American gangster film “Carlito’s Way,” in which Al Pacino plays a melancholy former dealer who tries to start a new life, only to find his criminal past catching up with him. No one knows exactly how many times the Kreuzberg Carlito has rented the film, but at some point he must have adopted the notion of an “honorable gangster” as a way of life — one in which the laws of the neighborhood blended, fatally, with those of the Koran. At age 15, Ayhan was accused of throwing bricks at police officers during the May Day riots in 2000. (He complains that his friends sold him out to the police “for a lousy $500.”) Four months later he was caught handing out flyers proclaiming that “Jews and infidels” were responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Then he claimed that he was secretly in contact with Turkish Islamist Metin Kaplan’s “Caliphate State,” and in October 2001, apparently in an effort to provoke the authorities, he signed a document in which he claimed that he was “also a member of the PKK” — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is fighting for a Kurdish state. Later he told the commission investigating his sister’s murder that many things in his family’s past “weren’t pretty.” His brothers, he said, “were not always happy in their marriages.” Nor was his sister Hatin. These unhappy circumstances had always made him wish for a different life, he said, a better life — just like his Hollywood hero, Carlito. The Carlito wannabe needed the right girl for his new lifestyle, and a neighborhood schoolgirl named Melek, 18 years old, seemed to fit the bill. Ayhan worshipped her like a goddess. He sent her text messages praising her “soulful gaze” and “sweet smile.” After dating her for all of four weeks he wanted to marry her. Melek’s parents weren’t so sure, especially when they heard that the young man wanted their daughter to wear a head scarf. On Feb. 7, the boundaries between Ayhan’s twin worlds dissolved. Melek later told the police about a strange conversation she had had with him: He said he was deeply unhappy and that he could only be happy were he to free himself from an old burden. Something terrible had happened in his family when he was 14, he said, something involving his sister. Ayhan apparently told Melek that if she knew what he had been through and witnessed, she would understand why he had to do something his older brothers should have done years ago: kill Hatin. Investigators now believe that Hatin was once raped by one of the men in her family. She was a victim of incest, and under her community’s crude code of honor it was not the rapist but the victim who should be held responsible. Melek said that on the evening of the murder, “Carlito” kept glancing at his watch, gave her E100, and said to pass the money to an acquaintance if she didn’t hear from him. The next day, the airwaves filled with news of Hatin Sürücü’s murder. That afternoon, Ayhan called Melek and told her to meet him at the Kottbusser Tor subway station, and the two then took the subway to the Bahnhof Zoo stop. While they sat on the train, Melek says, she asked him: “Ayhan, was it you?” and he answered, “Yes, I did it.” He spoke very quietly and rested his head on her shoulder, and they both fell silent for the rest of the trip. Only later, says Melek, did Ayhan give details of the murder — that he went to Hatin’s apartment and sat in her kitchen; that he noticed a prayer rug and was pleased his sister had apparently started to pray again; that he asked Hatin to walk him to the bu
s. Near the stop, Ayhan pulled out a pistol. Before pulling the trigger he allegedly asked Hatin whether she regretted her sins. Melek told the police that while Ayhan told her this story he mimed a pistol with his thumb and index finger and aimed at her head. Then, she says, he told her he panicked and ran from the scene, boarded a bus, and hid his blood-covered hand in his pocket. The bus passed the crime scene and Ayhan saw his sister lying on the sidewalk. The prosecutors in this case will want to know two things: Why Melek failed to report her boyfriend’s intention to commit murder, and how credible her testimony is. When Ayhan Sürücü was questioned by criminal investigators five days later, he swore, by everything that was holy to him, including his love for Melek, that he had nothing to do with the death of Hatin. One of the interrogators asked him which sentence he believes is appropriate for the murderer of his sister. Ayhan answered without hesitation: “May I be frank? If it were permitted by law, I would hang him — even if he were my own brother.”

The Fiqh Council Of North America Wishes To Reaffirm Islam’s Absolute Condemnation Of Terrorism And Religious Extremism

Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram – or forbidden – and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not “martyrs.” The Qur’an, Islam’s revealed text, states: “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Qur’an, 5:32) Prophet Muhammad said there is no excuse for committing unjust acts: “Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” (Al-Tirmidhi) God mandates moderation in faith and in all aspects of life when He states in the Qur’an: “We made you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind.” (Qur’an, 2:143) In another verse, God explains our duties as human beings when he says: “Let there arise from among you a band of people who invite to righteousness, and enjoin good and forbid evil.” (Qur’an, 3:104) Islam teaches us to act in a caring manner to all of God’s creation. The Prophet Muhammad, who is described in the Qur’an as “a mercy to the worlds” said: “All creation is the family of God, and the person most beloved by God (is the one) who is kind and caring toward His family.” {In the light of the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah we clearly and strongly state}: 1. All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam. 2. It is haram for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence. 3. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians. We issue this fatwa following the guidance of our scripture, the Qur’an, and the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him. We urge all people to resolve all conflicts in just and peaceful manners. We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism. We pray for the safety and security of our country, the United States, and its people. We pray for the safety and security of all inhabitants of our planet. We pray that interfaith harmony and cooperation prevail both in the United States and all around the globe.

Immigrant Emancipation ‘A Growing Trend’

AMSTERDAM – Young Turkish and Moroccan mothers have the same opinions about combining work and family duties than women from other ethnic groups, research indicates. But the Dutch Family Council also said that the husbands of Turkish and Moroccan man have different opinions regarding emancipation, newspaper Trouw reported on Tuesday. The results of the study were being presented during a ‘Family Parliament’ at the Rotterdam city hall also on Tuesday. Dozens of immigrant families were to discuss with politicians the issue of parenthood in a multicultural city.

British would-be shoe bomber admits plot to blow up plane

By Rosie Cowan, Steven Morris and Richard Norton-Taylor A British would-be suicide bomber yesterday admitted plotting to blow up a packed passenger plane in midair with an explosive device hidden in his shoe. Saajid Badat, 25, agreed to board and destroy an American-bound flight from Europe, three months after the 9/11 hijackers killed thousands in New York and Washington. But four days after he was given the deadly device in December 2001, he had a change of heart and backed out of the mission. However, he kept the bomb and police discovered its components, plastic explosive, a fuse and a crucial piece of evidence – detonating cord matching that found on convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid – when they raided Badat’s family home in Gloucester almost two years later, in November 2003. Traces of explosive were also found in his locker at the Blackburn mosque where he studied. Badat’s conviction marks the first admission of guilt by a British terrorist plotting an al-Qaida-style suicide atrocity. He originally denied the charges and was due to stand trial. But in a surprise change of plea at the Old Bailey yesterday, he admitted conspiring with Reid, who was jailed for trying to bomb a Paris to Miami flight in December 2001, and Nizar Trabelsi, who is in prison in Belgium for trying to bomb a Nato air base there. He will be sentenced on March 18. Scotland Yard said Badat had little choice but to plead guilty given the overwhelming evidence against him, the result of a three-year inquiry spanning 15 countries, and intensive surveillance by MI5 and anti-terrorist officers. Peter Clarke, Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner and head of the Met’s anti-terrorist branch, said: “This is a very important conviction, the culmination of a painstaking investigation lasting three years. It is a tremendous example of cooperation between international agencies and those in the UK. “Today’s conviction demonstrates the reality of the threat we are facing. Badat had agreed to blow up a passenger aircraft from Europe to the United States and was prepared to kill himself and hundreds of innocent people.” Intelligence officials and po lice chiefs are also concerned at how such a respectable young man was motivated to contemplate such a ruthless attack that they have asked the cabinet secretary, Andrew Turnbull, to examine how terrorists attract middle-class British Muslims. “We must ask how a young British man was transformed from an intelligent, articulate person who was well respected, into a person who has pleaded guilty to one of the most serious crimes you can think of,” said Mr Clarke. But Badat’s shy, softly spoken demeanour hid a dark secret. Detectives and intelligence sources believe Badat and Reid, a criminal from a broken home, met in terror training camps in Afghanistan, where Badat spent two years, significantly longer than most European-based operatives. It was there, anti-terrorist sources say, that Badat “underwent some form of radicalisation”. Reid and Badat no doubt bonded over common experiences and both were provided with almost identical bombs, destined to cause mayhem. In the end, Badat was not prepared to commit suicide, a reluctance intelligence agencies have discerned among other suspected terrorists they have monitored. The security services made the link between the three men when they established that Badat had used Belgian phone cards, found on Reid at the time of his arrest, to contact Trabelsi. Richard Horwell, prosecuting, said Badat had undergone terror training in camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he was given the bomb. He came back to the UK on December 10 2001. But four days later he sent an email “indicating he might withdraw” and he did not take the flight he had booked from Manchester to Amsterdam, from where he intended to fly on to the US with the bomb. Mr Horwell said Badat confessed on his way to the police station after his arrest. Bearded and wearing a grey sweater, the defendant spoke only to confirm his name and plead guilty during yesterday’s 15-minute hearing. In Gloucester, family and friends were in shock. His parents, Mohammed and Zubeida, moved to the city from Malawi around 30 years ago. Mr Badat worked in an ice-cream factory in Gloucester before he retired through ill health. Badat, one of four children, attended St James Church of England primary school, a minute’s walk from the family home. He attended the boys’ grammar school, the Crypt, where he gained 10 O-levels and four A-levels, in physics, chemistry, biology and general studies, before going to university. David Lamper, the Crypt’s headmaster, said: “He was a popular and diligent pupil.” After university he travelled abroad, ostensibly to study Islam. Friends said he visited Pakistan, India and the Middle East. During one of his returns to the UK he enrolled to study at an Islamic college in Blackburn. He met a young woman in Lancashire and friends said they intended to marry. When he visited Gloucester he attended the two local mosques and was seen as a rising star. One man who knew Badat through the mosques said: “He was one of the most saintly men I had ever met. He was a scholar who had studied our religion so devoutly that he could quote much of the Koran’s teachings word for word. “He was a quiet, reserved, respectful and sober man – you could never have imagined him as a terrorist in a million years. He respected people of all faiths and colours.”