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Islamic Society ( 4 Aug 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistanis and Honour Killings in UK


By James Tozer, David Williams, Imtiaz Hussain and Sara Malm

4 August 2012

Iftikhar Ahmed was an adulterous bigamist who married Shafilea's mother Farzana behind his first wife's back, abandoning their three-year-old son.

He also 'embraced western culture', dated white girls, loved going to discos in tight jeans and preferred to be known as 'Buzzer', his Danish ex-wife Vivi Lone Anderson has revealed.

Today it emerged that the man who murdered his 17-year-old daughter because she simply wouldn't conform to the values of 'rural Pakistan’ once shunned his strict Muslim family to marry Vivi who describes 'the most liberal of husbands' as a doting father who would never raise a hand in anger.

  Murderer, adulterer, bigamist: Iftikhar Ahmed with his first wife, Danish Vivi Lone Anderson on their wedding day in Copenhagen. The thank you-note underneath has been signed 'Dearest wishes, Vivi and Buzzar'

Today, Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, bears no resemblance to the man Vivi was happily married to for four years.

For nearly a decade, Mr Ahmed and second wife Farzana kept up the sham that they were grieving parents whose beautiful daughter had been kidnapped.

In reality they were killers who murdered 17-year-old Shafilea because she wanted to embrace Western culture - as her father had done in younger years – and then terrorised the rest of their family into a sickening nine-year cover-up.

Covering up the murder of his own daughter, Mr Ahmed was also hiding dark secrets of his past, the fact that he committed adultery and bigamy before his Danish wife divorced him.

Almost 30 years earlier Mr Ahmed was a caring husband to Vivi and a doting and loving father to their three-year-old son Tony.

 Missing: Shafilea Ahmed disappeared in September 2003 and her body was found on the bank of the River Kent in Cumbria the following February

Vivi describes him as the most liberal of husbands who never raised his voice, lifted a hand in anger or imposed his will on his wife.

But during visiting to Pakistan to see his dying mother, having left his Danish wife and son at home, Ahmed agreed to an arranged marriage to a cousin.

He then called his wife in Copenhagen, and said the family were moving to Britain and that he would meet them there.

When the family was reunited in Bradford, Mr Ahmed had his new wife Farzana — already pregnant — in tow.

‘I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when his uncle referred to this woman as my husband’s wife. Farzana hardly spoke any English, so I demanded answers from Bazza,’ Vivi says.

‘He told me he’d married Farzana in Pakistan. He said he couldn’t refuse because he’d been promised to her by his family, and so had no choice.

After a row which saw Vivi hospitalised after she put her hand through a glass door, she took their son Tony and returned to Copenhagen.

She says her ex-husband did not stop them but adds that it may have been for fear of being reported to the police.

The only time she heard from Iftikhar after their departure was a phone call during which he told her Farzana had given birth to a daughter.

This was the final straw for Vivi and she told him she wanted a divorce and Mr Ahmed promised to send money for their son.

‘I never heard from him again. My possessions were never returned and no money was ever sent.

'He never tried to contact his son or see him. It was as if we just didn’t exist any more.

‘Perhaps he wanted me, the wife he had chosen out of love, and Farzana, the wife who had been chosen by his family.

‘When he was in Pakistan, away from us and surrounded by relatives telling him what he had to do, perhaps he couldn’t find a way to refuse without bringing shame on his family.'

 Guilty: Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, and his wife Farzana, 49, of Warrington, Cheshire, suffocated their 17-year-old daughter Shafilea with a plastic bag

 Inside the courtroom: Iftikhar Ahmed stood impassively as the verdicts were given while his spouse wiped tears from her eyes with a tissue

Last night, Mr and Mrs Ahmed were jailed for life for murdering their teenage daughter.

As the sentence was imposed social services were accused of missing several key warning signs in the run-up to Shafilea's death.

Indeed, the killers were exposed only after Shafilea's younger sister plucked up the courage to tell how she and her siblings watched them suffocate her in 2003.

Mr Justice Roderick Evans said 'Westernised' Shafilea simply wanted a normal life but found herself 'squeezed between two cultures'. He then made a thunderous attack on the morals of the parents standing in front of him at Chester Crown Court.

'What was it that brought you two, her parents, the people who had given her life, to the point of killing her?' he asked them.

'You chose to bring up your family in Warrington but your social and cultural attitudes were those of rural Pakistan.

 Victim: Shafilea as a child with her mother at the family's UK home

'Shafilea was a determined, able and ambitious girl who wanted to live a life which was normal in the country in which you had chosen to live and bring up your children. However, you could not tolerate the life that Shafilea wanted to live.

'You wanted your family to live in Pakistan in Warrington.

'Although she went to local schools, you objected to her socialising with girls from what has been referred to as the white community. You objected to her wearing Western clothes and you objected to her having contact with boys.

'She was being squeezed between two cultures, the culture and way of life that she saw around her and wanted to embrace, and the culture and way of life you wanted to impose on her.'

He said the fact her siblings witnessed the murder was 'a truly horrifying feature' of the case which had 'blighted' their lives too.

He ordered both Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, and his 49-year-old wife to serve a minimum of 25 years in prison.

Shafilea's efforts to escape her parents' iron grip were thwarted by what criminologist Dr Aisha Gill called a 'catastrophic' communication breakdown as social workers took her reluctance to make allegations of abuse at face value.

Dr Gill, an expert in 'honour killings' who appeared for the prosecution, said that but for that Shafilea may still have been alive today.

Born and raised in Britain, Shafilea's aspirations forced her to lead a 'secret life', spending money from her evening job on buying 'Western' clothes and a mobile phone and enjoying flirtatious chats with young Muslim men.

Those aspirations clashed with her parents, who expected a compliant, demure future bride fit to marry a cousin she had never met in Pakistan. Shafilea was subjected to regular beatings. In her own words, found in an application for housing help, she wrote: 'Regular incidents since I was 15-16 years. One parent would hold me while the other hit me.'

 As the eldest daughter, her fate had already been determined 4,000 miles away in the village of Uttam in Pakistan's north-eastern frontier. Suspected family figurehead Abdul Razaq had proposed marriage on behalf of his son, whom Shafilea had never met.

 The siblings: Mevish, left, and Junyad, right, and the youngest sister, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all broke down in tears as the verdict was read out

  Led away: Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were two traditionalist disciplinarians who had very fixed ideas about how their children, particularly their daughters, should behave

Several times she fled the family home, but aged 16 she was packed off to Pakistan. In desperation she drank bleach, known locally as 'scrub', causing horrific injuries.

Her aunt Rukhsana Imtiaz said: 'I still believe it was a mistake she took scrub and did not intend to kill herself, but what happened was very bad…

'She was in great, great pain and we rushed her to hospital where they washed her stomach and saved her. She was kept under treatment for three days but her throat was badly damaged – she struggled to swallow even liquid.'

Astonishingly, the family recalls, the incident merely served to fuel Mrs Ahmed's anger because Shafilea had 'made a scene'. After months in hospital back home in Britain, Shafilea set about resuming a Westernised lifestyle.

Crucially, however, she had now lost her 'value' as a potential bride, her body ravaged by the effects of poor medical treatment in Pakistan.

On September 11, 2003, another – fatal – row began after Shafilea was picked up from her evening job wearing a short-sleeved top and white stiletto boots.

Her body was found beside a river in Cumbria in February 2004 but the breakthrough in the case did not come until 2010 when Shafilea's sister Alesha – only 15 at the time of the murder – was arrested over a mysterious robbery at the family home and finally told police she had witnessed the killing.

Now 24, she said their mother began the attack with the words 'Just finish it here', before her father stuffed a plastic bag in Shafilea's mouth, holding it there until she stopped breathing.

Their brother Junyad, then 13, later told his sisters 'She deserved it', Alesha said, telling of watching her parents wrap Shafilea's body in bin bags before her father carried it to a car.

Yesterday, at the end of the ten-week trial, Mrs Ahmed wept as she was found guilty, while her taxi driver husband grimaced then uttered an obscenity at detectives.

Police suspect someone helped dispose of Shafilea's body, and further prosecutions could follow.

A family torn apart: The disciplinarian parents whose children turned against them

The 11-week trial became a showdown that pitted sibling against sibling and parent against parent.

But In the end it was not forensics or a high tech bugging device which convicted Ahmed and his wife, Farzana, it was a simple question for the jury of who to believe.

Shafilea's sister, Alesha, 23, whose testimony was key in convicting her parents, sensationally told the court that she and the rest of her siblings witnessed the murder at the family home.

  At a previous hearing: Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were two traditionalist disciplinarians who had very fixed ideas about how their children, particularly their daughters, should behave

But Taxi driver Mr Ahmed always denied murder, saying Shafilea ran away from home in the middle of the night and he never saw her again.

Mrs Ahmed also denied murder but told the jury she saw her husband beat her eldest child and that she believed he killed her.

The youngest Ahmed child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was just seven years old when her parents carried out the brutal killing.

Alesha admitted she got involved in criminal activity and Mevish told the jury she not only sold drugs but became hooked on 'uppers' as well.

It was Alesha's organisation of an armed robbery at her own family home - she was alleged by the defence to be in debt to criminal gangs - which led to her remarkable disclosure, after seven years, that her parents killed her beloved older sister.

It could only have been a desperate need to escape the clutches of her controlling parents and damaged home life that led her to disclose to her solicitor what she saw on September 11 2003.

Even afterwards she was still torn by family loyalty.

Just as Shafilea fatefully returned home in February 2003, telling her teacher 'I've got to go back for my sister', Alesha too almost withdrew her statement in fear of breaking up her family.

 Scouring for clues: Forensic officers comb the riverbank next to the River Kent in in Sedgwick, near Kendal, Cumbria, where where Shafilea's body was found

  Grim discovery: Shafilea disappeared in September 2003 and her body was found on the bank of the River Kent in Cumbria the following February

But by the time the trial began, Alesha stood alone against her whole family.

Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were two traditionalist disciplinarians who had very fixed ideas about how their children, particularly their daughters, should behave.

If they did not conform to their ways, they would be punished.

That was the way they were brought up in the small village of Uttam, Pakistan, and that was the way they would bring up their children in Warrington, Cheshire.

Shafilea, their eldest daughter, was the first to have her head turned by the ways of the West.

Growing up in the UK, she liked the taste of freedom.

Like most teenage girls she liked make-up, high-heels, clothes and boys, and continually clashed with her parents as she struggled to establish her independence.

It was a fight she would ultimately lose, as Iftikhar and Farzana proved their fear of shame far outweighed their feelings of love for their first-born child when they killed her in cold blood in what should have been a safe haven - the family home.

Mr and Mrs Ahmed are first cousins and Sunni Muslims who grew up living next door to each other in a village with a population of about 3,000.

They were joined together in an arranged marriage - or Rishta - which was organised when they were very young and without their permission.

They come from a family of farmers who traditionally tended wheat and sugar cane crops on their 50 acres of land.

It was their loyalty to their family in Pakistan and the family's need to cling on to that land, which the families jointly owned, which seemed to fuel the Ahmeds' desire to marry Shafilea off to a cousin within the extended family.

During his cross-examination of Farzana Ahmed, Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, accused the defendant of being more worried about her family in Pakistan and of land and property than about protecting her daughter's life.

He said: 'That's exactly what this case is about, isn't it? You thought that things in the village in Pakistan were actually more important than Shafilea's life.'

Mr Edis said it was the fact Shafilea was from Warrington and did not share the family's traditional values which 'threatened' them.

Mr Ahmed's uncle, Abdul Razaq, 65, gave evidence via a video-link from Karachi, Pakistan, with the aid of an interpreter.

It was Mr Razaq who first called Mr Ahmed to inquire about his son marrying one of Mr Ahmed's daughters.

He said: 'I called him because I had a son and I called him with a proposal of marriage for one of his four daughters because he had four daughters and I said 'Give me one of your daughters' hands in marriage'.'

Mr Razaq claimed that Mr Ahmed told him his daughters were not old enough to marry and were studying.

But the prosecution said this was their plot to marry Shafilea off in Pakistan, a plot that was spoiled when the desperate teenager drank bleach in protest.

Mr Edis put it to Mr Razaq that after Shafilea drank the bleach in Pakistan she became 'too ill' to get married and was sent home.

He added: 'In your culture if the parents agree that their daughter will marry but that doesn't happen, is that something which they should be ashamed of?'

He responded: 'Yes, that's right. It is shameful.'

  Dark secret: Mr Ahmed (in doorway) at the funeral of his daughter as her coffin is carried from her house leaves her home in Warrington


The missed chances to save her

Several times during the unhappy last few months of her life, Shafilea Ahmed sought help to escape the physical abuse she was suffering at the hands of her parents.

But despite her desire to cut her ties with them and start afresh, social workers and other agencies meant to protect the teenager were unable to provide the support she needed.

Opportunities to step in and rescue Shafilea included:

May 2002: Iftikhar throws Farzana and the children out of the house; they are put up by social services but she has no money with which to feed them and goes home.

October: Shafilea tells worried teachers her parents are beating her and plan to make her marry but social services close the file after she says she doesn’t want intervention.

November: Shafilea runs away from home overnight, reporting continuing abuse, but social services take no further action. She is referred to a local Asian women’s association and a YMCA youth worker.

February 2003: Shafilea runs away again, declaring herself homeless and applying to the council for housing but is recaptured by her father. Police meet Shafilea and teachers at her school after she returns home but, in what they now acknowledge was an error, Iftikhar is present and the teenager says she is reconciled with her parents.

May: Shafilea returns to England after drinking bleach to avoid being forced into marriage, but while medical staff suspect her injuries might be self-inflicted, social services are not alerted.

Last night Edwina Harrison, independent chairman of the Warrington Safeguarding Children Board, said ‘much has changed’ in the intervening years and said that police, NHS and council staff now worked together more closely.

Social workers would automatically be involved if a 16-year-old declared themselves homeless today, she said.


 'You were destructive and cruel': how Mr Justice Roderick Evans sent Shafilea’s parents off to jail for life

  The judge: Mr Justice Roderick Evans QC gave a damning indictment of Mr and Mrs Ahmed's actions

'What was it that brought you two, her parents, the people who had given her life, to the point of killing her?'

'You chose to bring up your family in Warrington but although you lived in Warrington your social and cultural attitudes were those of rural Pakistan and it was those which you imposed upon your children.

'Shafilea was a determined, able and ambitious girl who wanted to live a life which was normal in the country and in the town in which you had chosen to live and bring up your children.

'However, you could not tolerate the life that Shafilea wanted to live.

'You wanted your family to live in Pakistan in Warrington.

'Although she went to local schools, you objected to her socialising with girls from what has been referred to as the white community.

'You objected to her wearing western clothes and you objected to her having contact with boys.

'She was being squeezed between two cultures, the culture and way of life that she saw around her and wanted to embrace, and the culture and way of life you wanted to impose on her.'

'A desire that she understood and appreciated the cultural heritage from which she came is perfectly understandable, but an expectation that she live in a sealed cultural environment separate from the culture of the country in which she lived was unrealistic, destructive and cruel.

'The conflict between you and her increased in the last year of her life and you tried to impose your cultural values and attitudes on her by intimidation, bullying and a use of physical violence.

'She tried to escape and she was determined to do so because she knew what lay in store for her at your hands - being taken to Pakistan to be 'sorted out', i.e. having her Westernised ideas removed - and to be married off.'

Of the night of the murder...

'On the evening of 11th September 2003 you berated her for her behaviour and in temper and frustration you two suffocated her. It was you, Farzana Ahmed, who said to your husband: 'Finish it here'.

'While I accept that there was no pre-existing plan to kill Shafilea that night, that remark, together with the evidence relating to whether or not Shafilea survived the drinking of bleach, drives me to the conclusion that you two had previously discussed the way that you might ultimately resolve the problem which Shafilea presented for you.

'Your problem was that in what you referred to as your 'community', Shafilea's conduct was bringing shame upon you and your concern about being shamed in your community was greater than your love of your child.

'In order to rid yourselves of that problem, you killed Shafilea by suffocating her in the presence of your other four children.

'You killed one daughter, but you have blighted the lives of your remaining children.

'Alesha escaped but she is unlikely to be able to avoid the legacy of her upbringing.'




I don't pretend like we're the perfect family no more

Desire to live is burning, my stomach is turning

But all they think about is honour I was like a normal teenage kid

Didn't ask 2 much I just wanted to fit in

But my culture was different

But my family ignored


Now I'm sitting here

Playing happy families

Still crying tears

But no we're a happy family

I have these fears

I wish, I wish, I wish

For a happy family... oh yeah



I feel trapped, so stuck I don't wot 2 do the feeling is mutual

I don't know how to explain I'm a trapped so trapped (so trapped)

Now u know where I stand, when I fall back I got no where else to land

I don't know how to say I'm trapped so trapped I'm trapped wit u


It was my last year in school, so happy with my friends I got lots to do

But came this day when everything changed

I came home it seemed like a normal day

But sumthing wasn't right - I wish I coulda changed the event

I shoulda killed myself instead I'd rather have been dead

Coz now I have a burden on my chest, and no it won't go away, the guilt, the pain




Iftikhar Ahmed was an adulterer who cheated on his first wife and abandoned his son in order to avoid bringing shame on his family in Pakistan.

Mr Ahmed was already married to a Danish woman by the name of Vivi Lone Anderson when he decided to turn his back on her and follow through with the marriage his family had arranged for him when he was a child.

They were married in June 1982 in Copenhagen and had a son, Tony Anderson.

Mr Ahmed stayed in Denmark until 1986 when he received a letter from his family in Pakistan.

He told his then wife he had to go home as his mother was ill, but Ms Anderson was to discover that this was a lie.

She and her son were asked to join Mr Ahmed in Bradford in May 1986 after he had returned from Pakistan.

It was in their new family home that Ms Anderson met a heavily pregnant woman who was living with them in the house.

She presumed it was a member of Mr Ahmed's family.

The lie was only discovered when a health visitor came to the house and established Mr Ahmed was the father of the unborn child.

He then admitted he had returned to Pakistan where he had been required to marry Farzana, who had fallen pregnant immediately.

He told his wife that he and Farzana had been promised to each other when they were children.

Ms Anderson left the UK the same month she had arrived and recalls conversations with Iftikhar in which he said he could leave his son to grow up without his influence because he was a boy.

He said, if they had had a girl, he would not be able to allow her to grow up 'without his guidance in the Islamic ways'.



  Home: The covert listening device was placed in the family home in November 2003

Police investigating the murder of Shafilea Ahmed were so convinced that her parents had killed the teenager they 'bugged' the family home to listen in on their conversations.

The covert listening device was placed in the family home in November 2003 - three months before Shafilea's body was discovered - and a series of recordings were made.

The key feature about the recordings was that Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed appeared to know that they might be under surveillance and feared their phones had been tapped.

Nevertheless, the couple had a series of conversations which were caught on tape in which they talked about how they could get away with murder and how best to use the media to their advantage.

There was very little talk about their 'beloved Shafilea' and the police were referred to by Mr Ahmed as 'sister f******'.

In one conversation they talked with a third man referred to as Tariq, about 'forgetting dishonour' and using the press to save themselves, not by finding Shafilea, but by pinning the blame 'on some other sister f***** so they go and look for them'.

Farzana then spoke about wishing she had kept the SIM card from Shafilea's phone because it had the numbers of 'lots of boys' on it.

At one point Iftikhar talks about the legal system in the UK and how it works on proof.

He is heard saying: 'Without any proof, even if you sister f****** kill 40 people, until it is found, they can't do anything to you.'