A Jordanian immigrant in Texas could possibly be sentenced to the death penalty after he was convicted of committing two honor killings on Thursday.
In 2012, prosecutors say Ali Irsan, 60, killed his daughter’s Christian husband, and her best friend after his daughter Nesreen left Islam and converted to Christianity.
When Irsan’s daughter Nesreen left Islam and fled her family home at 23 years-old, she converted to Christianity and married Coty Beavers, 28, prompting Irsan to to orchestrate the two honor killings.
In Islam, men are permitted to commit honor killings to restore “honor to their family”. An “Honor killing” is the practice by which a female family member murders another family member (primarily female) due to the murderer’s belief that the victim has brought dishonor to the family or disobeyed Islam. Islam permits honor killings in the event that a woman has sex outside of marriage, leaves Islam, becomes a victim of rape, or dresses in revealing clothing.
“Honour and shame, that’s what this is all about,” special prosecutor Anna Emmons told jurors. “You heard him say honour is a big deal to him. And the only way to clean that honour is to kill.”
While Irsan’s trial in Houston, Texas lasted five weeks, jurors only spent 35 minutes deliberating before they convicted Irsan for the murders of Coty Beavers and Gelareh Bagherzadeh.
During his testimony, Irsan said that his daughter brought shame to his family when she ran away to marry Beavers with the help of her friend Bagherzadeh, who encouraged Nesreen to marry a Christian man.
According to Nesreen, her father kept harassing her after she moved in with Beavers, and he vehemently opposed her dating anyone other than a Muslim. As a result of her father’s nonstop harassment, Nesreen testified that she obtained a protective order from the court to prevent her family from harassing her.
Despite being issued a court order, Irsan violated the protective order and kept calling his daughter, and even drove near Beavers’s home on several occasions.
During the trial, there were over 100 witnesses, one of whom was Shmou Alrawabdeh, Irsan’s wife. She described her husband as a devout Muslim who believed he had to kill Beavers to restore his family’s honor. According to Alrawabdeh, Irsan snuck into Beavers’ apartment and shot him to death after Irsan tracked him down with his son Nasim.
In court on Thursday, Irsan carried a sign with the Islamic mantra “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is Allah’s messenger,” a Muslim statement that is found on the flag of ISIS.
Alrawabdeh was also charged in the case, but she pleased guilty to a lesser charge of kidnapping in return for testifying against her husband.
Irsan’s son Nasim, 24, is currently awaiting trial for his role in the honor killings.
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