Are Islamic Honor Killings a Growing Threat in America?

With a Muslim family in Texas charged last week with the murders of a Christian Iranian activist and young man who they blame for converting their daughter to Christianity, some wonder if Islamic honor killing is a growing threat in America.

Experts had differing opinions about whether "honor killing" is a growing threat in the U.S. and if Shariah, or Islamic, law is the cause of such murders.

Clare Lopez, vice president for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy, told The Christian Post, "People need to be concerned about this (honor killings) and law enforcement needs to be better educated and concerned as well."

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"As the Muslim population grows in this country, there is an increase in Shariah law, and incidents like this one will unfortunately increase. Not just in the United States, but Canada as well, Lopez warned.

In 2008, a father of Pakistani descent in Clayton County, Georgia, strangled his daughter for refusing to enter into an arranged marriage. And in 2009, an Iraqi immigrant living in Arizona killed his daughter for refusing an arranged marriage and moving in with a man.

In Canada, an Afghan family in 2012 was found guilty of murdering four female relatives because they were "dressing indecently," dating a Christian man, and using the internet.

Most recently, Ali Irsan of Texas was charged last week with capital murder of Iranian activist Gelareh Bagherzadeh and Coty Beavers, his son-in-law. Nesreen Irsan, Ali's daughter, converted to Christianity with the help of Bagherzadeh, and left home and married Beavers, a Christian. Ali Irsan's wife, Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh, and his son, Nasim, were also charged with murder.

Lopez offered, "Law enforcement might see a rash of underage girls, if they have knowledge that the girls are Muslim girls and come to law enforcement because of a fear of domestic abuse or potentially being killed, they can offer better protection."

But Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, a top expert on Shariah law and religious director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, defended Shariah law to The Christian Post, saying the honor killings are more of a cultural than a religious problem. "This crime or problem is something cultural and has nothing to do with Shariah law. The problem is the cultural settings of where some of these people come from and that is not an Islamic problem. This is basically an emotional issue rather than a religious issue, and a very small group of people are involved in that."

Europe with its large Muslim immigrant population has seen a number of incidents of "honor killings." The Parliamentary Assembly for the Council of Europe, an international human rights council, said in 2009 of honor crimes: "The problem, far from diminishing, has worsened."

The U.K. law enforcement reported in 2010 at least 2,823 individuals classified as victims of honor crimes.

The Honour Based Violence Awareness Network (HBVA), which works at bringing greater understanding and awareness to honor based violence, estimates that there are at least 5,000 honor based murders a year, and at least 12 a year in the United Kingdom.

The Washington Post reported in 2014 that 1,000 honor killings occur annually in Pakistan.

In the vast majority of nations, data for "honor killings" are not officially tabulated and can only be estimated, but the Middle East Quarterly reported that 91 percent of honor killings are perpetuated by Muslims.

According to the AHA Foundation, which is dedicated to ending violence against women and girls, there are 25 to 28 honor killings every years in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Justice  is figuring out how to collect data on honor violence in the nation, and had said it wanted to lay out a plan in early 2015.

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