Anatomy of an ‘honour’ killing: Why a Palestinian community demanded a father murder his divorced daughter
Thamar Zeidan was murdered by her father when he choked her to death as she took an afternoon nap in their small, conservative West Bank village.
“Honour crimes” are rarely talked about in Palestinian society, but Ms. Zeidan’s mother and sister have gone public to highlight the case and reveal the immense pressure her father came under to commit the crime.
Extended members of the woman’s family accused her of “disgraceful and outrageous acts” in a petition that was widely circulated in her village of Deir Al Ghusun, near the West Bank town of Tulkarem.
The petition demanded Ms. Zeidan’s father, Munther, “reinstate the cultural and religious morals in his family.”
It was posted in five local mosques during Friday prayer and signed by more than 50 relatives, including Abed Al-Rahman Zeidan, a Palestinian lawmaker.
“My husband was under tremendous pressure,” said Ms. Zeidan’s mother, Laila. “The family wanted to banish us from the West Bank and people started rumours that my husband wasn’t mentally stable.”
Reacting to demands to restore the family’s honour, Munther killed his daughter, Laila Zeidan said.
“My husband is a peaceful man and this is completely out of character, but the pressure was too intense.”
There have been 27 “honour crimes” in Palestinian areas this year, compared with 13 last year, according to organizations who keep track of such murders.
My husband is a peaceful man and this is completely out of character, but the pressure was too intense
“It’s not clear that honour killing is on the rise, but we can say that documenting such cases has improved and police and media are more aware of them,“ said Surayda Hassan, the general director of the Women Affairs Technical Committee.
Ms. Zeidan, 32, was killed in September, but her family are only now speaking out to highlight the tragedy and bring public attention to “honour killings,” which are a sensitive subject in Palestinian society.
Ms. Zeidan divorced her husband four years ago and moved back in with her parents. However, to gain her freedom she had to give up custody of her three children.
Problems began when she became friendly with Iyad Na’lweh, a labourer who worked in Israel. He was married, but promised to make Ms. Zeidan his second wife, which is legal in Islamic law.
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