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My mother was the victim of honour killing

Britain's most controversial Muslim playwright tells the extraordinary story of her mother's murder and growing up as the daughter of an honour killing.
I was six-years-old when my mother, Shakeela Begum Khan, a beautiful, sassy, educated young Muslim woman, was murdered.

Returning home from school one day in 1976 to the one-room bedsit in East London where we both lived, I found police officers and an ambulance crew removing her body.

I remember that scene now as if it were a vague dream.

Did it really happen, or did I just imagine it?

I have no memory of how I felt, only of what I witnessed.

As I grew up, older relatives had to reassure me that my memories weren't delusional.

Many years later, I also discovered the killer had set up the room to make it look as though it were a brothel, and my mother a prostitute.

As anyone from a Muslim background would instantly recognise, it was the ultimate way to dishonour a woman in the eyes of her family and community.

Soon after my mother's death, her estranged husband, Rasib - my father - was accused of the murder, charged and tried, but he was acquitted.

Taken by Rasib to live with his new wife and a half-brother, both of whom were cruel and abusive to me when my father was not around, I was never allowed to utter a word about my mother.

For the next eight years, I lived in an atmosphere of secrets, lies and crippling fear, reluctantly protecting my vicious stepmother and half-brother from the fury my father would have unleashed on them if he'd known what they did to me.

I lived in constant dread that if I told anybody, the ultimate punishment for them would be death.

Now, three decades later, I have attained a form of poetic justice.

As a playwright, I challenge the forces that try to impose silence and censorship on me.

Having been silenced for so many years of my life, I am now determined to say the unsayable whenever necessary.


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Interesting thread of comments from this article.

If blacks really thought their lives mattered, they wouldn't be killing each other so much.

Giving authorities information about crimes in the inner city is dead man walking. The citizens have to change the mindset and adopt the ideology that Neighborhood watch working with law enforcement is the only way to fix the problem. The cultural mindset needs to change before the murders will stop.

I couldn't agree more. White people CAN'T solve this problem for the black community. Only black people can break this suicidal trend and, frankly, I don't think they have any leaders bold or strong enough to lead them. At some level, you'd think they have to understand that shooting each other, having kids without responsibility, not improving their educational achievement and blaming others for their own poor dec…