Shahid Mohammed a man suspected of being involved in Huddersfield’s worst-ever mass murder has been arrested in Pakistan, the – so far local – news tells us.
Almost 13 years ago, In May 2002, 8 people1, spanning three generations of one family, were killed and three others escaped, after petrol was poured through the letter box of a house, in Birkby, Hudsdersfield. The house had been destroyed by the time fire engines had arrived, just four minutes after neighbours had called them upon hearing the windows smash as petrol-bombs were thrown. The youngest killed was a six-month-old baby, the oldest 54.
News of the arrest of Shahid Mohammed immediately caught my attention. Like the killers and their victims, I’m from Huddersfield. I was living and working there for an organisation that ran women’s refuges at the time of the fire.
Three young men were arrested shortly after the incident. The following year, Shaied Iqbal was convicted of eight counts of murder whilst Shakiel Shazad Amir, and Nazar Hussain were convicted of manslaughter. Shahid Mohammed had also been arrested but ran away whilst on bail.
What I haven’t seen in the news reports is an analysis of sex. All those charged in connection with the murders were male, as is Shahid Mohammed. That seven of the eight victims were women or girls seems to have evaded anyone’s notice. Every report has included the names of the dead, those who escaped and those charged. All but one of them, their visiting grandmother, were born and grew up in Huddersfield. Their names tell us that they were of south Asian descent. I wish I could believe that the omission of mention of the race of both victims and perpetrators meant that this was not seen as important, that it was a reflection of a society where people are valued equally, but I don’t. The names say enough, the names tell us ‘other’, the names tell us Muslim. But the lack of mention of sex fails to locate this act within the context of men’s violence against women and girls.
We need to name male violence against women and girls. Identifying trends and making links is important, it helps us to identify causes and therefore – where there is the will – the potential to find solutions and create change. Men’s fatal violence against women and girls crosses boundaries of race, religion and culture but immediately when race or religion is a factor in violence, it is identified. Why isn’t it the same with sexist and misogynistic murder? Could it be that it is only when the primary aggressors are those acting against, not reinforcing the dominant ideology, that the majority make links?
1 Tayyaba Batool, 13, Rabiah Batool, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, 6, Aneesa Nawaz, 2, Najeeba Nawaz, 6 months, their mother Nafeesa Aziz, 35, and their uncle Mohammed ateeq-ur-Rehman, 18, their grandmother, Zaib-un-Nisa, 54.
It breaks my heart every time I read your blog, but this must be spoken. These women deserve to be acknowledged. Thank you x
Completely agree sex of the perpetrator(s) and sex of the victim(s) must always be stated whenever malestream media deigns to report yet another supposedly ‘isolated incident’ of pandemic male violence against women and girls.
But we know why malestream media continues to ignore sex of the male predators because naming men as the ones responsible brings the readers’ attention to the fact it was not a ‘person/people committing violence against another ‘person/people’ but males enacting their choice and agency to subject females to male violence and all too commonly lethal male violence.
Only reason why the male perpetrators’ names were publicly printed by malestream media was to reinforce white mens’ lies that ‘it is those other non-white people (sic) over there who are the ones preying on people’ (sic) not us white people’ (meaning us white males). It is white mens’ politics and this white male misogynistic strategy is not new – white men have always claimed ‘white men are superior to other non-white males.’ However when it benefits white men they will collude and support their non-white bros. in maintaining male pseudo sex right to subject women and girls of all ethnicities/races to systemic male violence.