As Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were sentenced, there was a feeling that their crime happened because of a cult of political correctness
Reading about the case of Shafilea Ahmed, the 17-year-old Warrington girl murdered by her parents in front of her siblings for being “too westernised”, there was much to contemplate: the jarring oxymoron of the phrase “honour killings”, which, to their credit, the police refused to use; the astounding courage, indeed the honour, of Shafilea’s sister in standing alone and telling the truth about the murder; the despair of Shafilea, who drank bleach to avoid a forced marriage, but still slipped through the net of social services.
There was another strange aspect of the story, a sidebar in the scheme of things, but gathering force as Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were sentenced. It amounted to an open season on liberal-bashing: the overwhelming consensus that a culture of political correctness, liberalism, leftie cultural squeamishness, call it what you will, was largely to blame. That this kind of thing only happens because people are too scared of offending other cultures to confront such problems as forced marriage, “ownership” of females, and other embedded misogynies. That this is where slavish PC tolerance gets us: girls such as Shafilea Ahmed are betrayed. What dangerous, foolish nonsense.
Do people seriously believe that tolerance towards other races and cultures is a “problem”, equal to, or worse, say, than intolerance towards other races and cultures? In fact, I’m confused: where is this liberal-leftie sensibility that’s so often cited and attacked, this blinkered ideology that’s so far up its own right-on backside, so anxious not to cause offence, that it finds it acceptable to leave young girls such as Shafilea in danger? Does it exist or is it just a convenient myth?
In truth, Shafilea’s plight was beyond real or imagined uber-liberal sensibilities. Shafilea was abused, beaten, imprisoned, abducted and, in the end, murdered. Her situation was exacerbated by mistakes and communication breakdowns between the few lifelines she had. Such as the acceptance of Shafilea’s claim (in the presence of her father) that everything was fine, even after her previous appeals for help, and the swallowing of the bleach. This failure wasn’t about some misguided PC wish not to offend Islam, or anything else, it was about incompetence, pure and simple: the collapse of a system of care, leading to a young girl falling through the cracks.