Honour killings soar as Islamic fundamentalism spreads it’s wings

From The Telegraph U.K.

Tulay Goren murder: ‘honour’ crimes doubling every year, figures show

“Honour killings” are now running at the rate of one a month, it has emerged, following a shocking rise in violent crimes committed in Britain in the name of religion.

By Gordon Rayner and John Bingham
Published: 6:30AM GMT 18 Dec 2009

The number of murders, rapes and assaults on people who dare to break strict religious or cultural rules is doubling every year, police figures show, with up to two violent “honour crimes” being committed every day.

But charities which help victims of honour crimes say the true extent of the problem is far worse than the statistics show, as every year hundreds of vicitms – normally women – are too frightened to report attacks or to give evidence in court.

The escalating problem was highlighted yesterday as an Old Bailey jury convicted Mehmet Goren, 49, of the cold-blooded and premeditated murder of his 15-year-old daughter Tulay after she fell in love with someone from the “wrong” branch of Islam.

Miss Goren disappeared 10 years ago after telling a friend she might be pregnant but justice caught up with her father after his wife “courageously” testified against him and lifted what was described as the “cloak of secrecy” which surrounds honour crimes.

A prosecutor said the case was a “wake-up call” to the authorities over the extent of the problem in this country, which campaigners say is growing because of the rise of religious fundamentalism.

Miss Goren and her family had nine contacts with police in the days before her death, during which they complained of violence by Goren, but officers had little understanding at the time of the concept of honour crimes and she was left at the mercy of her father.

The court heard that Miss Goren, whose Turkish Kurd family are Alevi Muslims, was drugged, tortured and then killed by her father after she fell in love with a Sunni Muslim twice her age. Her body has never been found.

Goren, who adhered to what one police officer described as “outdated feudal beliefs”, was sentenced to serve a minimum of 22 years in jail as the trial judge condemned the “hideous practice” of so-called honour killings.

Miss Goren’s sister Nuray Guler told the court, the teenager had been “caught in the middle of two clashing worlds” and pleaded with police to stop other women falling victim to “this primitive custom”.

She expressed fears for the safety of her mother Hanim, whose evidence against Goren had put her own life in danger. “No one should fail to realise what this means within our culture,” she said.

“These people do not forget.”

Figures released by the Metropolitan Police show that in London alone there have been 129 honour-based crimes between April and October this year, compared with 132 in the whole of 2008/09, which in turn was double the number of the previous year.

The Home Office has estimated that there are an average of 12 honour killings each year in England and Wales.

But Diana Nammi, director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation, described the official figures as “the tip of the iceberg” and suggested there are more than 500 honour crimes each year nationwide.

She said: “It’s not just the detection of honour crimes which is increasing, but the number of crimes which are committed. The rise of fundamentalism is the reason these crimes are increasing. The Government has also been turning a blind eye to the problem, which only makes things worse.

“We need to change the mindset of the communities where these crimes are happening – mainly people from South Asia, the Middle East and Muslim communities – and hopefully the religious leaders will think about how we can stop this.”

Ann Cryer, the Labour MP for Keighley, near Bradford, who has campaigned to raise awareness of honour crimes, said local councils in areas with large ethnic minority populations remain reluctant to confront the problem because it is such a politically sensitive issue.

She said: “It is a real struggle to get this issue out in the open because instead of looking after the human rights of vulnerable young women you get accused of doing down the Asian community.

“One of the difficulties is that you have very large extended families in places like Bradford, which are very influential, and local councillors are afraid of upsetting them because they think they will lose votes. As a result local authorities are reluctant to talk about this issue.

“But I know from experience that for every male vote you might lose for speaking out you will gain a female vote, and I just wish politicians would realise you don’t need to fight shy of this.”

Detective Chief Inspector Gerry Campbell, of the Metropolitan Police, said officers were now trained to recognise potential honour crimes, and that awareness of the problem has “significantly improved”, though he insisted the force was not “complacent” about the ongoing problem.

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