August 3, 2007
Shia cleric bans ‘honour’ killings
BEIRUT Lebanon’s most senior Shia Muslim cleric has issued a fatwa banning “honour” killings, calling the custom of murdering a female relative for sexual misconduct “a repulsive act”.
The fatwa by Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah is a rare condemnation of the practice by a prominent cleric. Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah is the religious authority for Lebanon’s 1.2 million Shias. Honour crimes are rarely reported in Lebanon, but the ayatollah’s spokesman Hani Abdullah said that his office had received reports of an increase in “honour” killings, though he could not give specific figures.
Although the practice is illegal in Arab countries, perpetrators often go unpunished or receive light sentences. The overwhelmingly Sunni populations of Jordan – where it is estimated that some 20 women are killed every year by their male relatives – and the Palestinian territories are unlikely to heed the ayatollah’s fatwa. However, the cleric does have followers among Shias in Iraq, where he lived for 30 years in the holy city of Najaf. (AP)