‘Honor Killing’ Case Involving Family Of Yazidi Followers Grips Germany

A court in the German city of Detmold is currently trying the case of Arzu Ö, a Kurdish teenager who was murdered last November, presumably by members of her own family. Prosecutors say she “dishonored” her family, followers of the little-known Yazidi rel

Torsten Thissen

DETMOLD - It's next to impossible for someone on the outside to decipher the way a family functions. Pressure, violence, the true nature of child-parent relationships or the way siblings interact – these realities can be kept well-hidden. To outsiders, a family can seem solid. But that same family, for someone inside it, can be hell on earth.

Realities can even be shielded when – as in the case of the Ö. family – authorities investigate. That is what happened in a case being tried now in the German city of Detmold, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. For the past couple of weeks, the district court has been hearing the case of 18-year-old Arzu Ö., the youngest daughter of a Kurdish family who are practitioners of the Yazidi religion.

Followers of this independent, monotheistic religion believe that God created the world from a pearl. There are an estimated 800,000 Yazidi followers worldwide. The religion has no concept of the devil. Evil, in fact, is not spoken about. Yazidi's religious principles and stories are passed on in songs. A core principle is that people are responsible for their acts, because God gave people eyes to see, ears to hear, and a mind to reason with.

Freiburg psychologist Jan Kizilhan also explained to the court that Yazidi followers are only allowed to marry others of the same faith, and that women must be virgins when they married. Kizilhan, himself a Yazidi practitioner, then came to the point that all those involved in the case of the Ö. family believe is the salient one: anyone who becomes involved with someone outside the religion, or a woman who sleeps with someone outside marriage, dishonors the father and the whole family.

There have been a number of indications during the trial so far that the loss of honor was the reason why Arzu was killed. Those accused of killing her are four brothers and a sister. According to the prosecution, on Nov. 1, 2011, they kidnapped her and then shot her several times in the head.

Early on in the trial, the youngest of the brothers confessed to the killing: Osman Ö., 22, testified that during the heated discussions after the kidnapping he lost control and ended up shooting Arzu. The sister, Sirin Ö., tearfully testified that she and her siblings only wanted to give Arzu a good talking to since they did not agree with the direction her life had taken.

A "well integrated" family..

In the wee hours of Nov. 1, Arzu's boyfriend, a baker named Alex K., reported to the police that Arzu had been snatched from the apartment they shared. He fingered four of her brothers and a sister as the authors of the abduction, saying they climbed into the apartment through an open window at approximately 1:30 a.m. The siblings – Osman, Kemal, Elvis, Kirer and Sirin Ö. –threatened him with a pistol, hit him, and broke one of his fingers, he reported. They then abducted Arzu.

Alex K. and Arzu Ö. got to know each other at the bakery – Arzu helped out, and her mother cleaned. Arzu's former boss got the impression that the family was "well integrated." Arzu was friendly and a hard worker. That was in fact the impression the whole family made.

In August 2011, however, Arzu was severely beaten by family members, presumably because of her relationship with Alex. She fled to a home for battered women and subsequently cut herself off from her family. She also filed complaints against her brother Osman and against her father.

During the trial, prosecutors read out e-mails Arzu received from her family. The messages offer a glimpse of just how threatening the situation actually was for the teenage victim. Arzu had mentioned the pressure these messages put her under to a girlfriend, saying they made her fear for her life. She believed her family to be capable of anything, and did not trust her father when he wrote that if she returned home nothing bad would happen to her.

Among those who testified at the trial were acquaintances of the Ö. family. Of course people noticed them, people said. For one thing, the neighborhood where they lived wasn't a very big one, and when a family – particularly a family of foreigners – has nine kids, they stand out. But the Ö. family never stood out negatively. On the contrary.

German rights organizations have called for a vigil to be held in front of the Detmold district court building as a sign of protest against archaic notions of family "honor." They have also called for a nation-wide campaign to raise consciousness about the issue; better victim protection; and counseling services for those facing such issues.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Youtube

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Air Next: How A Crypto Scam Collapsed On A Single Spelling Mistake

It is today a proven fraud, nailed by the French stock market watchdog: Air Next resorted to a full range of dubious practices to raise money but the simplest of errors exposed the scam and limited the damage to investors.

Sky is the crypto limit

Laurence Boisseau

PARIS — Air Next promised to use blockchain technology to revolutionize passenger transport. Should we have read something into its name? In fact, the company was talking a lot of hot air from the start. Air Next turned out to be a scam, with a fake website, false identities, fake criminal records, counterfeited bank certificates, aggressive marketing … real crooks. Thirty-five employees recruited over the summer ranked among its victims, not to mention the few investors who put money in the business.

Maud (not her real name) had always dreamed of working in a start-up. In July, she spotted an ad on Linkedin and was interviewed by videoconference — hardly unusual in the era of COVID and teleworking. She was hired very quickly and signed a permanent work contract. She resigned from her old job, happy to get started on a new adventure.

Others like Maud fell for the bait. At least ten senior managers, coming from major airlines, airports, large French and American corporations, a former police officer … all firmly believed in this project. Some quit their jobs to join; some French expats even made their way back to France.

Share capital of one billion 

The story began last February, when Air Next registered with the Paris Commercial Court. The new company stated it was developing an application that would allow the purchase of airline tickets by using cryptocurrency, at unbeatable prices and with an automatic guarantee in case of cancellation or delay, via a "smart contract" system (a computer protocol that facilitates, verifies and oversees the handling of a contract).

The firm declared a share capital of one billion euros, with offices under construction at 50, Avenue des Champs Elysées, and a president, Philippe Vincent ... which was probably a usurped identity.

Last summer, Air Next started recruiting. The company also wanted to raise money to have the assets on hand to allow passenger compensation. It organized a fundraiser using an ICO, or "Initial Coin Offering", via the issuance of digital tokens, transacted in cryptocurrencies through the blockchain.

While nothing obliged him to do so, the company owner went as far as setting up a file with the AMF, France's stock market regulator which oversees this type of transaction. Seeking the market regulator stamp is optional, but when issued, it gives guarantees to those buying tokens.

screenshot of the typo that revealed the Air Next scam

The infamous typo that brought the Air Next scam down

compta online

Raising Initial Coin Offering 

Then, on Sept. 30, the AMF issued an alert, by way of a press release, on the risks of fraud associated with the ICO, as it suspected some documents to be forgeries. A few hours before that, Air Next had just brought forward by several days the date of its tokens pre-sale.

For employees of the new company, it was a brutal wake-up call. They quickly understood that they had been duped, that they'd bet on the proverbial house of cards. On the investor side, the CEO didn't get beyond an initial fundraising of 150,000 euros. He was hoping to raise millions, but despite his failure, he didn't lose confidence. Challenged by one of his employees on Telegram, he admitted that "many documents provided were false", that "an error cost the life of this project."

What was the "error" he was referring to? A typo in the name of the would-be bank backing the startup. A very small one, at the bottom of the page of the false bank certificate, where the name "Edmond de Rothschild" is misspelled "Edemond".

Finding culprits 

Before the AMF's public alert, websites specializing in crypto-assets had already noted certain inconsistencies. The company had declared a share capital of 1 billion euros, which is an enormous amount. Air Next's CEO also boasted about having discovered bitcoin at a time when only a few geeks knew about cryptocurrency.

Employees and investors filed a complaint. Failing to find the general manager, Julien Leclerc — which might also be a fake name — they started looking for other culprits. They believe that if the Paris Commercial Court hadn't registered the company, no one would have been defrauded.

Beyond the handful of victims, this case is a plea for the implementation of more secure procedures, in an increasingly digital world, particularly following the pandemic. The much touted ICO market is itself a victim, and may find it hard to recover.

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