Syrian couple admit honour killing threat
A Syrian refugee couple, upon learning their adult daughter was dating a non-Muslim man in Fredericton, threatened her with an honour killing, court heard Tuesday.
Ahmad Ayoub, 52, and Faten Ayoub, 48, of Fairview Drive in Fredericton, appeared in Burton provincial court in custody Tuesday. They’d previously pleaded not guilty to indictable counts of uttering threats to kill their daughter, 25-year-old Bayan Ayoub.
They were scheduled to stand trial this summer but on Tuesday, they pleaded guilty to lesser, summary counts of uttering threats – three counts for Ahmad, and one for Faten.
Crown prosecutor Claude Haché said Bayan Ayoub reported to Fredericton Police Force in mid-February that her father, Ahmad Ayoub, threatened to kill her on three occasions.
The first was in April 2016, two months after the family arrived in Canada, court heard, when the father became irate when he discovered Bayan had an iPad she’d won in a contest. He threatened to poison her food at that time, Haché said.
“She stated her father wanted to limit her contact with local men,” Haché said.
The next threat came in June and July 2017, he said, when the family learned Bayan had met a non-Muslim man and was communicating with her through social media.
Ahmad Ayoub told his daughter “for his own dignity, it would be better to slaughter her” than to let her be in such a relationship, the prosecutor said.
The victim also told police her father threatened her on Feb. 13, 2018, when he saw she was receiving messages on her smartphone, court heard, telling her he’d kill her if the messages were from people she’d worked with during a placement at the local food bank.
Haché said Bayan Ayoub subsequently told police her mother, Faten Ayoub, called her Feb. 27 to tell her to tell the police she’d lied about the allegations she’d made about her father, that she was crazy and to admit herself to hospital.
“Her mother said if she didn’t do it, she would be killed,” the prosecutor said.
Faten Ayoub made the threat in two calls, court heard, the second of which was recorded.
The defendants, through interpreters, admitted making the threats Tuesday.
Haché said Bayan Ayoub still loves her parents dearly and wants to have contact with them. He said after her parents were remanded, her attitude about the threats changed.
“She maintains it’s her fault,” he said, adding that she’d become a reluctant participant in the case.
“I’m pretty sure they got the message now,” Judge Pierre Dubé said of the parents.
“Let’s hope so,” the prosecutor answered.
Haché asked the court to impose 100-day jail terms for both offenders, but since they’d already served 71 days in custody, that means they’d already served their time once the customary remand credit is factored in.
“There are some cultural and religious differences here,” the prosecutor said, noting crimes stemming from disapproval over relationships or religious practices occur in some cultures. “It is commonly referred to as honour-based violence.”
David Lutz, counsel for Ahmad Ayoub, said that proposal was a joint recommendation, but lawyer George Kalinowski, representing Faten Ayoub, asked the court to grant a conditional discharge, sparing her a criminal record.
Lutz noted the charges were the result of cultural differences and the ongoing effort to adjust to life in Canada.
“The language used was careless in the extreme and bordered on reckless,” he told the court, noting Syrians have a different way of speaking with one another than the customs in Canada.
A Syrian could tell someone “I’ll stab you,” Lutz said, “but they don’t mean it.”
“They know now that we don’t talk that way in Canada,” he said, noting the family now accepts the daughter’s relationship with the Canadian, non-Muslim boyfriend.
“They will not be a problem in the future.”
Dubé rejected Kalinowski’s request for a discharge, noting the message has to be sent that such behaviour won’t be tolerated.
He accepted the Crown’s recommendation for a sentence that essentially amounted to time served.
“In other words, you’ll be going home today,” Dubé told the couple as they sat in the prisoner’s dock.
“Thank you very much,” Faten Ayoub said.
The atmosphere outside the courtroom following the sentencing was celebratory, as family members and friends embraced the couple.
The parents also embraced and kissed their daughter, and Ahmad Ayoub shook the Canadian boyfriend’s hand and hugged him.
Dubé placed the couple on probation for a year, during which they’re to be of good behaviour toward their daughter and participate in counselling as directed by probation services.