'My daughter deserved to die for falling in love'
Two weeks ago, The Observer revealed
how 17-year-old student Rand Abdel-Qader was beaten to death by her father
after becoming infatuated with a British soldier in
For Abdel-Qader Ali there is only one regret: that he did not kill his daughter at birth. 'If I had realised then what she would become, I would have killed her the instant her mother delivered her,' he said with no trace of remorse.
Two weeks after The Observer
revealed the shocking story of Rand Abdel-Qader, 17, murdered because of her
infatuation with a British soldier in
Abdel-Qader, 46, a government employee,
was initially arrested but released after two hours. Astonishingly, he said,
police congratulated him on what he had done. 'They are men and know what
honour is,' he said. Rand, who was studying English at
She died a virgin, according to her
closest friend Zeinab. Indeed, her 'relationship' with Paul, which began when
she worked as a volunteer helping displaced families and he was distributing
water, appears to have consisted of snatched conversations over less than four
months. But the young, impressionable
It was her first youthful infatuation and it would be her last. She died on 16 March after her father discovered she had been seen in public talking to Paul, considered to be the enemy, the invader and a Christian. Though her horrified mother, Leila Hussein, called Rand's two brothers, Hassan, 23, and Haydar, 21, to restrain Abdel-Qader as he choked her with his foot on her throat, they joined in. Her shrouded corpse was then tossed into a makeshift grave without ceremony as her uncles spat on it in disgust.
'Death was the least she deserved,' said Abdel-Qader. 'I don't regret it. I had the support of all my friends who are fathers, like me, and know what she did was unacceptable to any Muslim that honours his religion,' he said.
Sitting on a chair by his front door and surrounded by the gerberas and white daisies he had planted in the family garden, Abel-Qader attempted to justify his actions.
'I don't have a daughter now, and I prefer to say that I never had one. That girl humiliated me in front of my family and friends. Speaking with a foreign solider, she lost what is the most precious thing for any woman. 'People from western countries might be shocked, but our girls are not like their daughters that can sleep with any man they want and sometimes even get pregnant without marrying. Our girls should respect their religion, their family and their bodies. 'I have only two boys from now on. That girl was a mistake in my life. I know God is blessing me for what I did,' he said, his voice swelling with pride. 'My sons are by my side, and they were men enough to help me finish the life of someone who just brought shame to ours.'
Abdel-Qader, a Shia, says he was
released from the police station 'because everyone knows that honour killings
sometimes are impossible not to commit'. Chillingly, he said: 'The officers
were by my side during all the time I was there, congratulating me on what I
had done.' It's a statement that, if true, provides an insight into how vast
the gulf remains between cultures in
Sources have indicated that Abdel-Qader, who works in the health department, has been asked to leave because of the bad publicity, yet he will continue to draw a salary. And it has been alleged by one senior unnamed official in the Basra governorate that he has received financial support by a local politician to enable him to 'disappear' to Jordan for a few weeks, 'until the story has been forgotten' - the usual practice in the 30-plus cases of 'honour' killings that have been registered since January alone.
Such treatment seems common in
Homosexuality is punishable by
death, a sentence Abdel-Qader approves of with a passion. 'I have alerted my
two sons. They will have the same end [as
He said his daughter's 'bad genes
were passed on from her mother'.
'She was killed by animals. Every
night when go to bed I remember the face of
She was nervous, clearly terrified
of being found, and her eyes constantly turned towards the window as she spoke.
'Even now, I cannot believe my ex-husband was able to kill our daughter. He wasn't a bad person. During our 24 years of marriage, he was never aggressive. But on that day, he was a different person.'
The mother is now trying to raise enough money to escape abroad. 'I miss my two boys,' she said. 'But they have sent a message saying that I am wrong for defending Rand and that I should go back home and live like a blessed Muslim woman,' said Leila, who is now volunteering with a local organisation campaigning for better protection for women in Basra.
One of those running the
organisation, who did not want to be identified, said that Rand's case was
similar to so many reported in Basra, with the only difference being she was in
love with a foreigner, rather than an Iraqi. There isn't too much to say.
'According to information we have
been given, some from
'She isn't here any more for her
mother to ask any of the questions she would like to.
Afif Sarhan in Basra and Caroline Davies
The Observer, Sunday 11 May 2008