Over 90% of honor killings worldwide are Islamic, but we are not allowed to discuss such things lest we be made to wear the scarlet letter “I” (Islamophobe). Honor killings receive lenient sentences (and sometimes none at all) in many Islamic countries.
This couple was Iranian, but remember: Iranians are actually moderates, just ruled by a few fanatics!
Video: Muslim husband Ahmad Yazdanparast sets fire to Ahdieh Khayatzadeh’s salon
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‘We had an hour to say goodbye. She was so badly burned we were told we couldn’t look at her face’: Agony of daughters of woman burnt to death for being ‘too Westernised’ by Muslim ex-husband, Daily Mail, June 8, 2014 (thanks to Armaros)
Ahdieh Khayatzadeh, 46, was set alight by her Muslim ex-husband
Suffered 95 per cent burns in horror attack at her salon in Stirling, Scotland
Her twin daughters today speak for the first time since losing their mother
‘It is like the worst nightmare you can’t wake up from’ Gloria, 20, said
Her father Ahmad Yazdanparast, 61, was found guilty of murder last week
Just an hour before she died in agony from horrific burn injuries, Ahdieh Khayatzadeh’s 20-year old twin daughters, Gloria and Glara, were allowed into intensive care to say one last, heart-breaking goodbye.
But before they got to her bedside, a nurse warned them both: ‘Close your eyes. Don’t look.’
Their 46-year old mother, her only crime to have become ‘westernised’ in the eyes of her Muslim ex-husband, had suffered 95 per cent burns in a shocking attack, leaving her so unrecognisable that paramedics at the scene couldn’t tell if she was a man or a woman.
Trauma: Twins Glara, left, and sister Gloria who lost their mother when their father set her alight at her beauty salon in Stirling. Gloria said the tragedy was ‘like the worst nightmare you can’t wake up from’
For anyone seeing a parent in this state it would be traumatic beyond belief.
For Gloria and Glara, the tragedy is harder to bear because the person responsible for killing their mother is their father, Ahmad Yazdanparast, 61.
Last Tuesday, at the High Court in Edinburgh, he was found guilty of murdering Ahdieh at her beauty salon in Stirling in October last year.
Today, in an interview with The Scottish Mail on Sunday, the couple’s devastated daughters talk for the first time about their father’s betrayal and his cold-blooded murder of the woman who was the ‘heart of their family’.
According to both girls, their mother had been deeply unhappy in the marriage for years before finally plucking up the courage to leave her husband and start a life on her own with her three children, Gloria, Glara and their 12-year-old brother, Reza.
Loss: Ahdieh Khayatzadeh, 46, was attacked by her Muslim ex-husband Ahmad Yazdanparast at her salon in Stirling, Scotland, as he thought she had become ‘too westernised’
Glara added: ‘Dad had brought Mum over to Scotland from Iran when she was in her early twenties. She had no family here and couldn’t speak a word of English. He was mentally abusive to her from the start. He was never kind or showed her understanding.
‘She felt trapped, lonely and far from home. But she was so strong and determined to make things work. When we were born she went to college and did a hairdressing and beauty course and got diplomas in both of them. Later, she did a teaching degree – all the while looking after two small children and learning English. She wanted to make her life successful and to have a happy family. The problem was Dad.’
By the girls’ own admission, Ahmad, who owned a takeaway, was a distant, uncaring father.
‘He didn’t even know when our birthdays were or what year at school we were in,’ Gloria recalls. ‘Mum did absolutely everything. She was the heart in our home. Dad would sit at the dinner table without saying a word and, when he did, it was to pick a fight. He never took us anywhere or played with us like our friends’ fathers did with them.’
Glara remembers one Christmas when they were 10 years old. ‘We’d bought him a present but, as usual, he had nothing for us so he just took some money out of his pocket and handed it over. That’s what he was like. He never made much effort with us at all.’
Killer: Ahmad Yazdanparast, picutred outside court at an early hearing, doused his ex-wife in petrol before setting her alight in a terrifying attack
Killer: Ahmad Yazdanparast, pictured outside court at an early hearing, doused his ex-wife in petrol before setting her alight in a terrifying attack
Gloria added: ‘As we grew older we noticed the awful atmosphere in the house. By now, Mum had set up her salon business and was lecturing in beauty at Glasgow University.
‘She was earning her own money and giving us as many opportunities as she could. Looking back, I can see now how determined she was that we would, one day, be able to stand on our own two feet as independent women. We did tennis, art, everything. She couldn’t have done more for us.’
Glara said: ‘Mum had become financially independent and Dad was so unpleasant all the time that Gloria and I just kept our distance from him. He had lost all our respect and he knew it.’
Matters finally came to a head in August 2010 when a family argument got out of hand and Ahmad was arrested for trying to attack his wife. He moved out of the family home and Ahdieh started divorce proceedings.
‘It was a relief when he finally left,’ Gloria says. ‘For years there had been this huge cloud over our house and now it was gone.’
But nobody could have predicted what was to come. For the next three years, Ahmad opposed the divorce proceedings at every turn, becoming increasingly more bitter and abusive. He even, one Christmas Day, left a message on the family’s answering machine threatening to kill his wife.
‘Of course we didn’t believe him,’ says Glara. ‘Who could ever, in a million years, imagine their father doing that? We just thought he was being nasty and difficult as usual and got on with lives.’
But on 12 October last year Ahmad finally snapped.
‘It was all about money,’ remembers Gloria. ‘He had just found out Mum was getting half of everything in the divorce settlement and that’s what triggered him. I remember, a few days before the attack, he was sitting in a friend’s car outside Mum’s salon going through paperwork and looking really wound up.
‘He felt Mum had won.’
Certainly, evidence at the crime scene gave some clue as to what might have been going on in Ahmad’s mind when he poured petrol over Ahdieh’s head and body and set fire to her. During the attack he scattered cards, bearing hand-written messages in English and Farsi.
On one card he wrote: ‘Enough is enough’, while another proclaimed: ‘If she was in Iran, she was not doing this to me and my children. Game is over.’
‘I felt that something sinister had happened’
Glara recalls: ‘We were both home studying when we got a call from a friend to say there was a fire at Dad’s takeaway. I don’t know why, but I sensed immediately that he’d done something awful.’
Knowing that their mother’s salon, Venus Hair and Beauty, was in the basement next door to the takeaway, Glara rushed to the scene only to find the area cordoned off and police cars everywhere.
She said: ‘My legs were like jelly and I couldn’t stop shaking. Mum and Dad had already been taken to the hospital by
ambulance and all the police could tell me was that there had been a small fire.’
She added: ‘At the police station, they refused to tell us anything – they were shielding us, I suppose. Even though we had been told it was a small fire, I had a horrible feeling something more sinister had happened.
‘In the end I insisted on calling the hospital and was put through to a doctor who told me he couldn’t tell me over the phone what had happened.’
It was only after they were driven to Forth Valley Royal Hospital in a police car to meet with the doctor that the full horror emerged and the girls were told their mother’s injuries were so bad she couldn’t survive.
Glara said: ‘Nobody actually ever said Dad had done it. We just knew. The shock is indescribable. It was so hard to take in. It didn’t feel real. We didn’t go to see Dad in the burns unit. If I’m honest, I was hoping he would die.’
She added: ‘He got out of the salon with six percent burns, but what he did to Mum was so appalling we were warned to not look at her. The nurse advised us not to go in – she said it was something we really shouldn’t see. But we really wanted to say a last goodbye, so they advised us to keep our eyes closed. That’s what we did. We went in separately with our eyes shut.
‘It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.’
She added: ‘I hate him all the more for that. I couldn’t even see my mother, one last time, when I was telling her I loved her. What kind of animal does that to somebody else?’
The next time the twins would see their father was in court and they admit they found his evidence sickening.
‘If I’m honest, I was hoping Dad would die’
Gloria said: ‘It was weird hearing him talk because I hadn’t heard his voice for months. He only once looked us in the eye – on the first day – and after that he never so much as glanced our way.
‘He has never once said sorry or admitted what he did. He just made up one ridiculous lie after another to try to save himself and even had the nerve to claim that our mother asked him to buy petrol. Mum hadn’t spoken a word to him in three years and he made out in court as if they were getting back together again.’
Yazdanparast denied murdering his ex-wife at the salon in Maxwell Place, Stirling, and lodged a special defence claiming he had acted in self-defence after she assaulted him.
Yazdanparast told jurors he was ‘a British Muslim’, that in Iran he would have authority over her but she had become ‘westernised’.
He said he had not wanted a divorce and maintained his wife threw something at him and he felt a burning sensation.
However, he had been caught on camera buying fuel from a petrol station that morning and putting a container in the car.
Judge Lady Wise said it was ‘a very serious and distressing case’ and only one punishment – life imprisonment – could be imposed. But she must set a minimum period before the killer is eligible to seek parole and adjourned sentence until later this month for the preparation of a background report.
Young: The twins play on a slide with their killer father when they were toddlers
Glara admits she feels furious when well-meaning people comment that they’ve lost two parents.
‘We haven’t,’ she says. ‘He was never there for us. How can we have lost two parents when we only, really, ever had one?’
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