Did you know the first Muslim Honor Killing on American soil happened back in 1989? Of course not. They weren’t calling them ‘honor killings’ back then. Come to think of it, they aren’t calling them honor killings much today, either.
NY TIMES (H/T Susan K) Tina (her full name was ‘Palestina’) was the last daughter at home and the most American of the family. She had lived in Brazil, Puerto Rico and on the West Bank, but she was happiest in St. Louis. An honor student, she played high school soccer over her father’s objections. Again over his objections, she went to the junior prom, only to be taken away by family members.
ZEIN ISA, Muslim father of Tina
Hoping to hear evidence of terrorist activities, the Federal Bureau of Investigation planted listening devices in the tiny apartment of a Palestinian-American more than two years ago. What the F.B.I. taped were the screams of a teen-age girl being stabbed to death. Sadly, the FBI was not monitoring the tapes when the murder took place.
Now, a jury that heard the tape-recorded voice of the 16-year-old pleading in vain for her life has convicted her parents of murder and recommended that they be put to death.
The jury deliberated more than four hours Saturday before asking for the death penalty against Zein Isa and his wife, Maria. On Friday, the jurors had convicted them in the death of their daughter Tina, the father for stabbing her and the mother for holding her down.
The girl’s screams and moans as she begged her parents not to kill her were captured by devices secretly planted in the apartment by Federal agents who were looking into possible illegal activities by Mr. Isa on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Cultures and Generations Clash.
Mr. Isa was born in Palestine and his wife in Brazil — and the parents’ attempts to control their daughter who, it seems, wanted to be an American teen-ager.
The seven-minute tape of the killing, on which the father is heard shouting in Arabic “Die quickly!” in answer to his daughter’s cries, chilled the jury of seven women and five men and shocked court officials who thought they had seen and heard everything.
“It’s worse than any movie, any film, anything I thought that I would ever hear in my life,” said Bob Craddick, an assistant prosecutor for seven years, who has heard the tape seven or eight times.
Judge Charles A. Shaw of Circuit Court set a Dec. 13 sentencing date for Mr. Isa, 61, a naturalized American citizen, and his wife, 48. The only alternative to the death sentence is life in prison without parole. The defendants are expected to appeal the verdict.
The Isa’s defense said the tape from Nov. 6, 1989, tells a story not of murder but of a struggle in which Mr. Isa killed the girl in self-defense after she threatened them and demanded money. The parents also maintained that their daughter may have been using drugs or alcohol, and that she had defied them by dating a young man they disapproved of.
On the night of her death…
Tina’s father says: “Here, listen, my dear daughter, do you know that this is the last day. Tonight, you’re going to die?”
Tina responds: “Huh?”
Zein Isa replies: “Do you know that you are going to die tonight?”
The girl’s mother asks her questions about items in her schoolbag. In the midst of her conversation with her mother, Tina begins to shriek in fear.
“Keep still, Tina!” says her father.
“Mother, please help me!”
“Huh? What do you mean?” the mother says.
“What help?” the mother responds.
Tina screams, and Maria says: “Are you going to listen? Are you going to listen?”
Screaming louder, Tina gasps: “Yes! Yes! Yes, I am!” then coughs and adds, “No. Please!” Six Wounds in Chest
The mother says, “Shut up!”
Tina continues to cry, but her voice is unintelligible.
“Die! Die quickly! Die quickly!” the father says.
The girl moans, seems to quiet, then screams one last time.
“Quiet, little one! Die my daughter, die!” the father says.
Tina was stabbed six times in the chest with a boning knife, which pierced her heart, one lung, and liver, investigators said. Mr. Zein admitted on the witness stand that he put his foot on his daughter’s mouth to quiet her.
After the verdicts were read, an agitated family friend who would give her name only as Mrs. Abraham expressed her dismay at what she saw as the jury’s failure to acknowledge the Palestinian culture. “I feel it’s not right. We follow our religion,” said Mrs. Abraham. She said the Isas had to discipline their daughter or lose respect. “They’d be embarrassed in front of everybody in the country like somebody when they go without their clothes outside.”