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Conviction of Jordanian Man Highlights the Reality of Honor Killings in the US

08-14-2018

A Jordanian man is awaiting sentencing for murder in an honor killing of two people in Texas. The trial has brought national attention to the practice of honor killings in the United States.

It's something typically associated with Middle Eastern countries and within Muslim families. Relatives of the victims say in places where honor killings are accepted, they can be carried out by people even outside the immediate family. 

Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, a Jordanian immigrant, participated in and had other family members help carry out, the honor killings of his daughter's husband and her close friend according to reports in The Houston Chronicle

The Chronicle reports courtroom details of how Irsan's plot played out. Prosecutors told jurors that Irsan had 28-year-old Coty Beavers – her daughter's husband – and 30-year-old Gelareh Bagherzadeh shot in 2012. They even presented evidence of another son-in-law who was killed almost 20 years ago.
 
They told the court Irsan made it look like self-defense but later bragged about getting away with murder.

"You don't have to be Muslim to be a victim of an honor crime," Michael Creed, the older brother of Coty Beavers, told the Chronicle. "These are not infrequent events that happen in some random part of the world. They're happening in America and they're on the rise."

In what the Chronicle called "a planned vendetta of breathtaking scope," details emerged that Irsan planned to kill five people including his daughter Nesreen – for her running away from home and converting to Christianity.

"If certain people who believe in honor killings feel that a daughter or a sister is becoming too 'Westernized,' then the friends or individuals who support them are considered expendable and can be killed," Creed was also quoted as saying in the Chronicle.

Prosecutors also say Irsan watched as his son shot and killed his daughter's friend, Gelareh. They say he included his wife and another daughter to help him carry out the honor killings. 

Irsan's daughter Nesreen told the jurors that she and her husband Coty tried to keep their home's location a secret from her dad for the fear of retaliation by him. She said her father told her if she married outside her Sunni Muslim faith, "he would kill us both."

She testified that she immediately suspected her father when she found her husband shot multiple times. 

Experts on honor killings also testified in the trial and say that some immigrants from countries where honor killings are accepted have trouble "assimilating and raising their children" because of their different cultural views on women and children.

The FBI reports there are at least 27 reported cases of honor killings in the United States each year. The number internationally is much higher at 5,000.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2017 to block refugees from six terror-related countries and requires federal law enforcement agencies to collect data on honor killings.

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