German film portraying honour killing released at cinemas

The German drama “Die Fremde” (“When we leave”) portrays the subject of honour killings in a Turkish German family. Up-and-coming actress Sibel Kekilli, a Turkish German herself, acts the part of Umay, who grows up in Berlin and gets married to a Turkish man in Istanbul. When Umay escapes the brutal relationship and flees to Berlin, she is rejected by her family and threatened by her husband.

In an interview with Der Spiegel, Kekilli speaks about her role and the significance of the topic of honour killings, which she campaigns against with “Terre des Femmes”. Asked about her view on contemporary Islam and its ability to reform, Kekilli claims that all religions can be interpreted in an intolerant way, and that Turks in Istanbul are generally more open and modern than their German counterparts, who have always lived a segregated life out of homesickness, fear and frustration. As for herself, she cherishes the values of both cultures she grew up with, particularly pointing to the German values she internalised: discipline, free thought and tolerance.

The award winning film was released at cinemas on 11 March 2010 and brings honour killings back on the agenda of the German feuilletons.

German publisher cancels book that some consider as insulting Islam

A German publisher said Tuesday it had cancelled the printing of a murder mystery about an honor killing because it contained passages insulting Islam and may have prompted Islamist retaliation.

Droste publishers dropped the book by author Gabriele Brinkmann entitled “To Whom Honor is Due” after she refused to change several passages, including one where a fictional character is portrayed making abusive remarks about the Koran.

“After the Mohammad cartoons, one knows that one can’t publish sentences or drawings that defame Islam without expecting a security risk,” said Felix Droste, head of Droste publishers.

The publisher’s decision has prompted criticism that it is bowing to Islamist intimidation and curtailing freedom of speech. The firm has also received threats from far-right groups against its employees for being “friends of Islamists.” German newspapers ran headlines: “Publisher self censors” and “Fear of Islamist attacks.”

Alleged “Honor Killing” of Four Afghan-Canadian Women from Montreal

Police identified 19-year-old Zainab Shafia, 17-year-old Sahar Shafia and 13-year-old Geeti Shafia as the sisters who were found in the vehicle submerged in the Rideau Canal near Kingston, Ontario. The body of their aunt, Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, was also retrieved from the vehicle. All four victims were from St-Leonard, a borough in Montreal.

Ms. Yahya, her 56-year-old husband Mohammad Shafia and their 18-year-old son, Hamed, are charged with four counts each of first-degree murder and four of conspiracy to commit murder in the June 30 deaths of their daughters and sisters and Mr. Shafia’s first wife, Rona Mohammad, whom he had been passing off for decades as his “cousin.”

One of the teenage girls allegedly killed by members of her Afghan-born family had been dating a Pakistani boy in Montreal against her parents’ wishes, according to a man and woman who say they are siblings of one of the victims. This allegation has spurred interpretations that the incident may be related to “honor” killings. The head of the Canadian branch of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) told news agencies that the story was unrelated to Islam. Other journalists have pointed to the dozen women who have died similarly in the last decade. Amin Muhammad, a psychiatrist who studies honour killings at Memorial University claims, “There are a number of organizations which don’t accept the idea of honor killing; they say it’s a Western-propagated myth by the media, but it’s not true,” he says. “Honor killing is there, and we should acknowledge it, and Canada should take it seriously.”