Killed by Relatives for Converting to Christianity

March 16, 2022
The victim, Maria

International Women's Day was marked in Iranian Kurdistan by the announcement of the violent death of a 20-year-old young woman, killed by her brother and uncle for converting to Christianity.

The victim, who was killed with a knife, was named Eman Sami Maghdid, but her Christian name was Maria. The murder dates back to March 6, but details only emerged yesterday suggesting she had been “punished” by her family for abandoning Islam, emancipating herself, and embracing the Christian religion, thus becoming “guilty” of apostasy.

An institutional source for Asianews, who requests anonymity, explains that “after her conversion, she chose to be called Maria.” Her family members “claim that Christianity was not the reason” for the murder, which rather was linked “to the fact that she wanted to live alone, having left, after four years, a husband whom she had been forced to marry at the age of 12.”

The crime took place near Erbil International Airport, not far from Ankawa, a predominantly Christian district of Erbil. Maria had been killed by her uncle, with the complicity of her brother. At first, there were reports of the arrest of the two alleged killers, but later the security forces spoke of only one (the uncle).

His father, who has the role of imam, is a well-known religious figure within the Islamic community. His family members “claim that Christianity was not the reason” for the murder. “She no longer wanted to wear the veil; she no longer wanted to follow Islamic traditions,” which would arm the hand of those close to her, to the point of killing her.

So, the Kurdish region, which in the past has hosted tens of thousands of Christians and Yazidis as well as Muslims fleeing the Islamic State, is not immune to sectarian violence. 

“Many Muslims have become Christians in recent years,” confirms the Asianews source, “but the issue has been glossed over so as not to fuel clashes and tensions.” The victim herself had written on social media: “being different, in Kurdistan, can cause death.”