In November 2004 Arash Ghorbani-Zarin was stabbed to death by his girlfriend’s brothers. The attack had been orchestrated by her father, Chomer Ali, 44 who had recently discovered that his daughter, Manna Begum was pregnant by Arash and wished to ‘vindicate the family’s honour’ by arranging his death.
Mr Ghorbani had been a student at Oxford Brookes University studying electronic engineering and had formed a relationship with Manna Begum, a young woman described as intelligent, independent and strong-minded, who he met through mutual school friends. The pair were devoted to each other, Arash’s close friend James Ware said, “Arash loved Manna unconditionally. They both loved each other.”
However Manna had been dating Arash against the wishes of her father who had promised her to another man. In summing up the relationship between Manna and her father, Mr Justice Gross who presided over the murder trial described a ‘battle of wills’ going on between the pair, the Bangladeshi born father with a strong sense of family honour and taboo, and his British born daughter, in love and pregnant with a man from another community. The older of the brothers Mujibar Rahman, who carried out the attack shared similar sentiments in relation to his sister, but not apply the strict rules that he judged Manna by to himself: he drank, had sex before marriage and enjoyed nights out in Oxford but protested that ‘it was more a matter of shame for Manna than anybody else’. The younger of Mana’s brothers on the other hand had counted himself as a friend of Arash. When Manna ran away from home shortly after an attempted suicide (her father had taken her out of school and confiscated her mobile phone) he accompanied Arash on visits to see her in hiding.
Manna and Arash had ignored her father and brother’s warnings to discontinue their affair. The pair had made no secret of their relationship, holding hands in public and kissing. Shortly before Arash’s murder, the pair had disclosed Manna’s pregnancy, showing friends ultrasounds of their unborn baby. Arash even took up a new job in Toys ‘R’ Us to support the family that he was soon to have.
When her father discovered the news however, he responded by goading his two young sons, Mohammed Mujibar Rahman, 19, and Mamnoor Rahman, 15 into the murder. The brothers accosted him whilst Arash was in his car in an Oxford suburb, and after trapping him by his seatbelt they stabbed him 46 times in the chest.
The two brothers and father were sentenced to life imprisonment. In a statement to the police afterwards, Arash’s father Mr Ghorbani-Zarin said: “Our son was intelligent and loving and had a wonderful lifetime ahead of him. We miss him every second, every minute and every hour of every day. His death has crushed our family. This verdict gives us back some comfort that justice has been done but it does not bring him back.”
Arash’s sister, Sara, 19, said: “There are no words to really describe Arash. He had the type of personality that when someone met him, they immediately fell in love with him.
“I think of him as our sunshine. Without him we only have darkness and desolation.