i Editor's Letter: Is murder honourable?



The judge summed it up best. Sentencing Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed to life in prison yesterday for the murder of their daughter Shafilea, Mr Justice Roderick Evans said: "Your concern about being shamed in your community was greater than the love of your child."

That's the warped basis of these killings. They have nothing to do with honour, or Islam, or a struggle to cope with the so-called decadence of the West. They are about pride.

When I was a child, I found it difficult to understand why pride was one of the seven deadly sins (indeed, in many ways it's seen as the most serious sin). I was always being told I should make my parents proud of me, or do schoolwork that I could take a pride in.

You need an adult perspective to see that pride is one of the most destructive of all human emotions. It stands in the way of forgiveness, reconciliation and repentance - all the things we need to live in peace with one another. In ancient Greece, hubris – extreme pride or arrogance – was a crime, since it often involved the humiliation of a victim, such as the mutilation of a corpse.

It's not very fashionable to talk about sin these days, but when so many people claim religious sanction for the appalling things they do, I think it's time we did.

Commenting on the case yesterday, Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said: "Islam is very clear on honour killings and forced marriages – they are totally forbidden and those that carry out these crimes do not carry them out in the name of our great faith."

Whatever your religion, and whatever your background, no one should be allowed to think there is anything honourable about murder.

Stefano Hatfield is away

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