Shafia family guilty in ‘honourless’ murders

Mohammad Shafia, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and their son Hamed were each found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder in the drowning deaths of Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, Geeti, 13, and Mohammad Shafia’s first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad, 52.

“It’s difficult to conceive of a more heinous, more despicable, more honourless crime,” said the judge.

“The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your twisted notion of honour, a notion of honour founded upon the domination and control of women. A sick notion of honour that has no place in any civilized society.”


  1. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    There’s a poll at the bottom of the Sun story:

    Should there be extra prison time for “honour killings”?

    Yes: 88% 582 votes

    No: 11% 74 votes

    Mine is one of the 74 no votes. While these killings were reasonably found to be 1st degree murder, they’re no worse than, say, mafia executions and should get the same punishment.

  2. Andrew B. says

    “The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your twisted notion of honour, a notion of honour founded upon the domination and control of women. A sick notion of honour that has no place in any civilized society.”

    OMFG that judge is racist!

    I think that’s my default objection to anything now. If you disagree with me, you’re a racist.

  3. sundoga says

    Yes vote here.
    This is a specific and different behaviour pattern from most other forms of murder. Singalling out this type for more extensive punishment would emphasize that not only does our society and legal system reject the act as unacceptable, but also the logic pattern and motive underlying the act. Or in short, “Not only was what you did wrong, but also your entire motivation for it.”

  4. piero says

    ‘Tis Himself, I disagree

    They are far worse than mafia executions because they are perpetrated by close relatives, the very people you would expect to protect you. It is not the “honour” that makes it worse: all murders committed by a close relative or a trusted person should carry a harsher penalty.

    By the same token, child rape committed by trusted priests or relatives should be treated as a far graver offence than your run-of-the-mill child rape.

    In fact, I would favour the death sentence in such cases, because someone who is capable of murdering those he is supposed to love and protect is beyond redemption.

  5. says

    Yes, the logic of punishment aside, I think parents murdering their children is orders of magnitude worse than other kinds of murder. It’s such a negation. Imagine being a daughter and knowing your parents want to kill you! Imagine being in that car and knowing that your parents and brother just have killed you. Your parents hate you enough to want to kill you. It’s just so horrible.

  6. shouldbeworking says

    I voted ‘no’ as well. Murder is murder. Why did it take so long for the juy to reach a verdict?

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    piero @ # 4: … all murders committed by a … trusted person should carry a harsher penalty.

    Including those where a mafia guy whacks his fellow mafia guy?

  8. piero says


    Good point, but only apparently.

    I was referring to real trust, not to mafia trust. That’s compulsive trust, the assurance that you’ll be OK as long as your being alive does not interfere with your boss’s bottom line.

    As Ophelia made clear in her post (#5), the real tragedy is the knowledge that you own family hated you enough to kill you. Think of the last moments of those girls, and you’ll see why your analogy is less than perfect.

  9. Steersman says

    Noticed that one of the news reporters talked about this case “sending a message” about what is and is not acceptable in Western democracies, something that cannot be emphasized too much. Should be part of the immigration process if not additional laws.

    Some justification for banning the immigration of Muslims unless they are prepared to explicitly renounce any efforts to base their behaviours on Sharia “law”.

  10. says

    shouldbeworking asks,

    “Why did it take so long for the juy to reach a verdict?”

    Do you think 15 hours is too long a time to decide whether three people are innocent or guilty?

    This info may answer your question

    “As trials go, jurors faced a complex task. They had to consider more than three months of proceedings, including the testimony of 58 witnesses, 165 exhibits, physical evidence, forensics, wiretaps, laptop searches and diametrically opposing arguments from the Crown and the defence.”–guilty-jury-finds-shafia-family-members-guilty-of-first-degree-murder?bn=1

  11. Alverant says

    If “murder is murder”, then why are there laws about terrorism? By that logic burning down an abortion clinic is just arson and not terrorism. Dragging a homosexual behind your pickup just for being gay until his body falls apart is merely murder (if not manslaughter). Oh and stalking wouldn’t be illegal at all, just trespassing (if that).

    No, we need to include the motivation for committing a crime when sentencing comes. It’s not being “a thought police” it is a factor in how bad the crime is and how it should be dealt with.

  12. says

    Although crimes may be evaluated differently according to who commits them owing to what motive, many people fail to realize that punishment, however severe, neither does anything to prevent crimes like the one under consideration here nor can it undo what has been done.
    I am not saying that there ought to be no punishments whatsoever. I am of the opinion, though, that we need to ask ourselves,

    (1) What are the conditions under which this kind of crime arises, and,

    (2) What can we do so as to remedy these conditions?

    Evidently, one ill condition is that there is a concept called ‘honour’ of which many people think they know what it means, while the very same people fail to give a coherent definition thereof every time they are prompted.
    It is not so much about ‘civilization’ – indeed a term of great misuse itself! –, but rather about what is most healty for a human society. Now, it is not really healthy for a society supposed to be flourishing to kill people just because they do something other people do not approve of. Even the greatest display of disrespect does not justify killing someone by itself.
    Of course, an unhealthy society may survive, but it could – and this is the central point – be in a better state if it commited itself to what is healthy for it.
    What actually is healthy, in turn, can be measured – albeit not exactly in every detailed respect – scientifically.
    One can only assent to this, needless to say, however, under the premise that one does not take religiously or otherwise culturally transmitted beliefs opposing science and the possibility of knowledge apart from these for the last word on everything.

  13. ambassadorfromverdammt says

    I don’t agree that these murderers hated their daughters/sisters. They hated losing control of their daughters/sisters. A much more destructive and dispicable hate, IMO.

    I think the judge nailed it.

  14. ischemgeek says

    @piero: I disagree with the death penalty in any case for three main reasons. First, false convictions do occur, and people are falsely executed as a result. Imagine knowing your government – which has a duty to protect you through the social contract – is going to execute you, through no fault of your own. Imagine knowing your innocent relative was going to die because the legal system screwed up… I’d rather see a thousand criminals alive and in prison (because the “on the street” idea is a false dichotomy: life imprisonment is a better and more likely alternative) than one person executed wrongly. Second, I disagree with it on a matter of principle: It’s very hypocritical for a nation to say, “Murder is wrong!” and then turn around and start killing people. Third, on a utilitarian view, life in prison is cheaper than execution.

    Regarding the case, I’m very pleased with both the verdict and the judge’s comments. IANAL, but it’s a shame that Canada’s dangerous offender statute requires that the crimes be committed on different occasions… I would not be at all opposed to indefinite imprisonment in this case.

  15. piero says


    Yes, I agree: we are fallible human beings, and executing an innocent person is a horrible thing. I guess my outrage got the better of me when I was posting. Sometimes I wish there was a God who could infallibly exterminate these monsters. But there isn’t, so we have to live with our imperfections and do the reasonable thing.

    Thank you for pulling me back into the world of rationality.

  16. says

    @ 17, I watched The National last night specifically to see the coverage – saw the guy in the baseball cap who was “supporting” the killers.

    @ 14 – they didn’t hate them, they hated losing control of them. Well they did hate losing control of them, obviously, but to kill them for that they have to have hated them, too.

    A CBC reporter went to a cafe/hangout to talk to Afghans about the verdict and the ones they showed voiced much the same thought – how could parents do that to their children.

  17. lordshipmayhem says

    In 25 years, they shall be eligible for parole – we can only hope it is not granted.

    The truly unjust part of their sentence is that if they’d been found guilty of just one of those murders, they’d still have been eligible for parole in 25 year. In other words, they got a four-for-one special, or 7.5 years per killing.

    Canada’s justice system does not allow for consecutive sentencing.

  18. piero says

    I estimate that Mohammad Safia will die in prison. Tooba will be an old, lonely woman when and if she is granted parole, and I don’t think she could do much harm on her own. On the other hand, if Hamed is granted parole I hope he is run over by a 30-ton truck on his way home.

  19. John says

    A CBC reporter went to a cafe/hangout to talk to Afghans about the verdict and the ones they showed voiced much the same thought – how could parents do that to their children.

    Yeah right.

    However, some shafia relatives still living in Afganistan were also interviewed and they clearly stated that honour killings are fully justified.

    I’m tired by this whole wash, rince and repeat script.

    Anyone remember Bridges T.V.? That was a project led by a supposedly moderate muslim couple until the husband killed the wife after the wife expressed a desire to get a divorce.

    So the wife in a married couple who set out to distance islam from honour killings and to dispell any any misunderstandings Americans had ( ie honour killings)about the faith was herself killed in what can only be characterised as a classic honour killing.

    Ever since this verdict has been handed down…and it hasn’t been long… local and national media are replete with Muslims grabbing the mic and saying that none of this has to do with their religion.

    What’s probably the most important detail to be remembered about all of this is the fact that Shafia’s second wife was instrumental in enabling this all to happen. She was the enthusiastic and willing facilitator of a murderous patriarchy.

    She screamed and cried when photos of her three murdered daughters were shown in court and claimed she couldn’t look at them.

    Of course, if you can’t stand to look a photos or your dead daughters, then don’t murder them, I guess.

  20. says

    What do you mean “yeah right” – do you think all Afghans in Canada think murdering daughters is perfectly fine?!

    Saying it has nothing whatever to do with Islam is a separate issue.

  21. eric says

    Just read the linked article. The last couple of paragraphs really threw me for a loop. If its correct that the defense’s translator ended up giving (some of) the key evidence for convinction, while inadvertently trying to defend them, what a scary thing! That means it could’ve easily gone the other way, and these folks might have gotten away with it had there not been some odd behavior by that translator.

  22. says

    I don’t see much difference between Hamed drowning his sisters because they wouldn’t submit to patriarchal ownership and the Canadian-born woman killed because her “estranged husband” didn’t accept that she wanted a divorce. Both are femicide and result from misogyny. You can lump Marc Lepine in that category too. Calling one an “honour killing”, the second “domestic violence”, and the third a “massacre” doesn’t do enough to get at the root of the problem and illustrate the common mentality.

    What I think is that first, sex and gender should be included as protected classes in Canada’s hate propaganda legislation. As well, there ought to be a separate offence for committing a hate crime. It could be defined in such a way that crimes against women qua women (same goes for other protected classes) would be considered a hate crime. Currently, it’s up to a sentencing judge to increase a convicted person’s sentence if there is bias involved in a crime, but it’s in their discretion, there’s no firm definition, plus, in a case with a mandatory sentence (i.e. 1st degree murder), there’s no way to tack on anything extra for it.

  23. John says

    What do you mean “yeah right” – do you think all Afghans in Canada think murdering daughters is perfectly fine?!

    Please forgive my skepticism concerning the ‘honest’ opinions of some Afgan Canadians.

    The islamist spindoctors are going full bore and every effort is being made to diassociate these murders from anything remotely Afgani or Islamic.

    So SO many in Canda’s islamic community go all coquette when asked to do some ‘splainin’

    They just can’t, CAN’T understand why anyone would EVER commit such a dispicable crime…as though it happens only in Canada.

    By the way Ms Bensen, all three murderers are appealing their judements…because they claim they’re completely innocent.

    ONe gets the impression all three are somewhat psychopathic.

    YOu may find my pro-pos a bit harsh, but I’ve come to the conclusion that a significant portion of this country’s Muslim community have very little empathy for women who get killed simply because those women desire freedom.

    I’ve followed this case on and off for the past 2 years, and there’s just too much sick, twisted nonsense spouted and behaviors engaged in to see this in a different light.

    The current demands for appeal are just a continuation of the insane histrionics the trio engaged in all throughout the trial.

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