An Iraqi immigrant who ran over and killed his 20-year-old daughter faces a minimum of 17 years in prison after an Arizona jury convicted him of second-degree murder in what is considered an honor killing.
Faleh Hassan Al-Maleki told police he thought his daughter Noor had become "too Westernized," having rejected an arranged marriage, and moving out of the family home.
"He felt she was becoming too Westernized, and he didn't like that," Peoria, Ariz. Police spokesman Mike Tellef said.
But his attorneys argued Al-Maleki meant only to frighten his daughter when he saw her with her boyfriend's mother. Hitting the women and killing his daughter was a tragic accident, they argued. The boyfriend's mother survived her injuries, and jurors convicted Al-Maleki of aggravated assault for hitting her.
Jurors reconvene Wednesday to start the penalty phase of the trial. Al-Maleki, 50, could be sentenced to as much as 46 years in prison.
Honor killings, murders done after a relative allegedly shames a family's reputation, are more prevalent in Europe and in the Muslim world. In recent years, however, examples like the Al-Maleki case have increased in the U.S. and Canada.
The verdict disappointed an Arizona-based Muslim group which works to combat extremism. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, issued a statement saying it was a travesty Al-Maleki was not convicted of first-degree murder. "This decision sends the wrong message not only locally but across the world to those that believe it is all right for men to subjugate and control Muslim women. This jury missed an opportunity to send a very clear message that this behavior is not acceptable within the United States and a women's individual rights are sacred and cannot be stripped by a father, husband or anyone else because they do not approve of her behavior," the statement said.
"Almalkei deserved the full force of the law for first degree murder and instead will only get the punishment of a second degree murder conviction. American Muslims need to step up for the memory of Noor Almaleki and protest this conviction as weak and declare that these behaviors can never be countenance in any way within our communities and within the Muslim conscience."