Date registered: Mar 2005
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‘Now I Can Sleep in Peace:’ Ghosun’s Mother
Badea Abu Al-Naja, Arab News
MAKKAH, 18 January 2008 — A grieving mother said yesterday that she felt justice had been served following the public beheading of the father and stepmother found guilty of torturing and murdering her nine-year-old daughter in 2006.
“Now I can sleep as justice has been done to my innocent dead daughter with the beheading of her tormentors,” the mother (who didn’t want her name published) said, adding that she hoped the unusually strict punishment laid down by an Islamic court would serve as a strong deterrent to parents who abuse their children. “The punishment was just and in line with the true spirit of Islamic law.”
The case, which has been covered extensively by Arab News and in the Arabic press, raised the ire of locals in the holy city. Yesterday Makkah was abuzz with people talking about the case and approving of the capital punishment.
Commenting on the crime and its punishment, journalist Howaida Khoja told Arab News: “The case of Ghosun (the girl who was murdered) was heart rending especially because she was tortured by the person who should have protected her. Her father played the role of jailer and executioner to please his wife.”
She wanted to know why the authorities did not intervene earlier even while the media were reporting the issue. “Where was the Ministry of Social Affairs’ for the protection of children? It’s unfortunate that all of our ministries and their branches with all other facilities failed when a helpless citizen needed help,” said Khoja.
She also lamented the inactivity of the Human Rights Commission. “If it cannot guarantee the rights of suffering human beings, what is the Human Rights Commission meant for,” she said.
In the past, cases of domestic abuse often went unreported by the media. But in recent years, there has been an opening-up to publicly address issues of domestic violence. Now the media regularly publishes reports of domestic violence, and many of these cases involve the abuse of children of divorced parents where the father wrests custody of the child from his ex-wife as an act of revenge and then the stepmother becomes involved in the abuse of the child.
This appears to be what happened in the case of Ghosun. The father, Ahmed Haji, divorced his wife and took custody of the girl. Then he remarried a woman named Iman. Together the two were found guilty of brutally beating, torturing and eventually murdering the daughter of Haji’s first wife out of what judges later determined to be merciless, cold vengeance. Both Haji and Iman were found complicit in the crime.
Counselor at the King Abdul Aziz Hospital in Makkah Hind Al-Hindi said the Ghosun tragedy is the result of a broken family in which the father divorced the first wife and married a second woman.
While endorsing the beheading of the culprits, Ahmad ibn Qassim Al-Ghamdi, director of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Makkah, told Arab News that there were some scholars who believe that a father should not be executed for killing his own child. Those scholars cite a saying of the second Caliph Omar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) to support this argument. According to this report, the caliph quoted the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as saying that no father should be beheaded if he killed his own son. However, Al-Ghamdi said the reported statement of the caliph is not authenticated as is required for reliable traditions, and therefore unacceptable to most religious scholars.
On the other hand, the Holy Qur’an stresses the law of retribution, which means life for life without exception and prevents the killing of persons without legitimate reasons, he pointed out. Moreover, in the present case the murder is premeditated and the second wife helped him to detain the girl besides torturing her before committing the murder, he said. Such acts would only perpetuate their punishment in hell, Al-Ghamdi said.
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