Monday, 13 July 2009
The Muslim woman and older Brit whose love survived death threats but was doomed to fail
The story of Jack and Zena.
For a couple whose extraordinary story has been likened to that of Romeo and Juliet, news that their marriage has broken down will come as a terrible shock to the legion of supporters who have followed their plight over the years.
They met and fell in love in 1992 in Leeds, when Zena was just 21. The British-born daughter of Pakistani immigrants, her father had decreed that she would marry a cousin when she came of age.
But then Jack came along (the couple met by chance when he was visiting his sister, who lived close to Zena) and from that moment on their lives would never be the same again.
Told that their relationship was a stain on the honour of Zena's family, the couple were forced to go on the run amid a barrage of death threats.
It is a terrible irony, then, that only when they stopped running did their relationship itself run into problems. Informed three years ago by detectives that there was no longer a 'credible threat' against them, Jack and Zena attempted to settle down.
But while Zena embraced the return to relative normality, Jack struggled to cope. Put simply, Jack says he cannot just forget what happened to him - that he cannot move on.
From the beginning, he says, people failed to appreciate that it wasn't just Zena's life that was at risk, but his as well - and that while that risk has diminished it will never go away.
Further, he is determined that no one else in this country will have to suffer in the same way that he and Zena have had to, warning that the practice of forced marriages and so-called honour killings continues to be a real problem.
Political correctness, he adds, is all that keeps it out of the headlines. People still think this happens only in the back streets of Bradford, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Birmingham and places like that,' says Jack.
'It doesn't - it happens in the sort of leafy suburbs where people will be sitting reading this paper.
But the details of Jack and Zena's life highlight a problem that police admit may have cost hundreds of young women their lives over the years. It should be pointed out that Zena did not come from a troubled, dysfunctional family.
Rather, she was the much-loved third of five children who enjoyed a stable, materially comfortable childhood in Yorkshire.
'She came from a warm, protective, caring family and she regarded them with love and affection,' Jack explains. 'The trouble was, that from birth she was meant to marry her cousin.'
At the age of 13, Zena was taken to her father's birthplace in Pakistan where she was introduced to her cousin, Bilal, and informed that they would marry when she turned 21. Zena had very different ideas. And it was Jack with whom she would fall in love.
The unlikely pair hit it off, meeting in secret until Zena's sister threatened to tell her father and his two brothers. She knew they would try to stop her seeing Jack, so in January 1993 they took the decision to run away.
The young lovers expected there to be a reaction - but imagined that after the initial furore the family would accept Jack. Instead, the reaction to a phone call on the night of their disappearance quickly awoke them to the grim reality of the situation.
'I was expecting them to be angry - but nothing like it was,' says Jack. 'I spoke to a brother who said, very coldly, very calmly, that when they found us we would end up in several bin liners.
'He said: "I am selling my cars, my company, and I am going to hire a bounty hunter - you are dead, you are walking corpses."'
What happened next has come to be seen as a textbook example of the extraordinary lengths to which an aggrieved family will go to avenge the perceived 'stain' on their honour.
Today, Jack lectures police forces and other government agencies about these issues, but when he and Zena went on the run they were very much on their own.
First, Zena's sister informed her that their father had suffered a heart attack and that she must come home.
Suspicious, the couple rang the local hospitals but were unable to find any record of his admission. They now believe the story was a ploy to lure them into an ambush.
After that, the direct threats began. Bricks were thrown through the windows of Jack's mother's house and her front door was kicked in. A gang of Asian men entered the property and one grabbed her by the throat.
He pointed towards one of his accomplices and said: 'Look at this man because he is the man who is going to kill your son.'
Arrests were made, but no charges were brought. Jack's mother was too scared to give evidence. By now the runaways were beginning to realise just what they had got themselves into.
Jack explains: 'I spoke to a police officer, who said to me: "Don't go back Jack, whatever you do, because they will smile in your face and slit your throat."'
What happened next is what Jack calls the pyramid system. First, word was passed around family and friends and then beyond to the wider community - to taxi drivers, restaurateurs, landlords. Exactly what Hannah Shah experienced.
Then, private detectives were employed to trace them through other channels. Several weeks after leaving Leeds, Jack and Zena registered with the Department of Social Security to claim benefits.
A couple of days later, they were summoned back to the social security office. They went, but quickly realised it had been a bogus call designed to lure them into the open. They fled to a nearby police station, but the nightmare continued.
Zena was arrested on a charge of theft, her family having alleged she had stolen £9,000 worth of jewellery.
'We didn't know it then, but getting the police to work for the family is a common tactic,' said Jack.
'Why bother looking for someone if you can get the police to bring them back home for you instead?'
Although Zena managed to convince officers of her innocence, the couple struggled to persuade anyone in authority to take them seriously. 'It was considered to be a simple dispute between father and daughter that would be resolved among themselves,' says Jack.
I'd only feel guilty if I'd done something wrong,' he says. 'We were simply two people over the age of consent who met, fell in love and wanted to be together. It's as simple as that - you don't choose who you fall in love with.'
To demonstrate that love, the couple wed on March 12, 1993, on the Isle of Wight. It should have been the happiest day of their lives but Zena, ever hopeful, telephoned her family to tell them about the wedding. It would be the last time they ever spoke.
'It was heartbreaking,' he says. 'I can still see her now sitting on that sofa, in tears, her father having told her that as far as he was concerned she had died on the day she left.'
'I think that for any couple who splits up it is incredibly sad, especially after such a long period of time and I know that a lot of people were shocked and devastated.'
The couple still keep in touch, and Jack says he has nothing but admiration for his soon-to-be ex-wife's strength of character and determination.
'It's such a terrible shame we've separated, but I cannot tell you just how inspiring Zena has been not just to me but to so many women,' he says.
'She had the courage to stand up and to say: "No, I am not going to marry who you say - I have the freedom of choice to marry who I want."'
Posted on 07/13/2009 3:15 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
13 Jul 2009
No mention, of course, in the article, of the fact that even had Zena *not* been pre-promised to a cousin - had she been to that degree 'not spoken for' - her relationship with Jack, the Infidel who remained an infidel during that relationship and did not convert to Islam, was flatly in breach of Islamic sharia. Sharia says Muslim women CANNOT marry non-Muslim men.
(Any hanky-panky short of marriage is likely to result in a charge of zina, immorality, whether the man is Muslim or non-Muslim; judging from cases reported at jihadwatch, a female accused of zina tends to get 'honor' murdered [or, worse, publicly executed, perhaps by stoning] irrespective of the religion of the man; the man, if Muslim, has a good chance of escaping scot free since all he has to do is deny everything; but if non-Muslim is likely to wind up dead, also).
Two Muslim girls in Texas USA, Amina and Sarah, were murdered by their father for, among other things, the heinous crime of having non-Muslim boyfriends at school (which of course raised, for Muslim daddy, the hideous prospect of his daughters one day marrying outside the Ummah or Muslim Mob).
In a case like this, every single member of the Muslim 'community' who can be shown to have helped in the pursuit of Jack and Zena, should rightly be charged as accessories to attempted murder; for murder is what would have happened, had Jack and Zena been caught.
If the UK - or any other western land where this kind of thing is starting to happen, or has happened - had any decency and commonsense, such Muslims - who attempt or actually carry out 'honor' murders aka ritual human sacrifice, or who assist in the attempt or actual commission of such murders, or in the attempted or actual killing of apostates from Islam, or in the attempted or actual killing of women like Zena and their non-Muslim lovers, partners or spouses - would be instantly stripped of citizenship [if they had it] and deported, lock, stock, and barrel, back to dar al Islam on a one-way ticket.
Western law says: no ritual murder of females; no murder of those who leave Islam for another faith or no faith; no murder of Muslim women who form relationships with non-Muslim men. Oh, and while we're about it, forced marriage, wife-beating, polygyny and 'marriage' to, and marital relations with, prepubescent and underage girls, which practices are all also part of sharia, are immoral and - in Western lands - illegal. Western law should therefore come down like a ton of bricks on all would-be sharia enforcers and sharia practitioners within our borders, the moment we catch them at it.