LAHORE, Pakistan - A woman was stoned to death by her own family in front of a Pakistani high court on Tuesday for marrying the man she loved, police and a defense lawyer said.
Nearly 20 members of the woman's family, including her father and brothers, attacked her and her husband with batons and bricks in broad daylight before a crowd of onlookers in front of the high court of Lahore, said police official Naseem Butt. He said Farzana Parveen, 25, had married Mohammad Iqbal, with whom she had been engaged for years in opposition to her family.
Her father had filed an abduction case against her husband, which the couple was contesting, her lawyer Mustafa Kharal said.
Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, who view marriage for love as a transgression.
Hundreds of women are killed every year in Muslim-majority Pakistan in so-called "honor killings" carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior.
Pakistan has in general seen a flurry of religion-related violence recently. On Monday, an American doctor of Pakistani origin was assassinated because he was a member of the Ahmadi sect of Islam. Western diplomats in Islamabad warned killings of innocent people are likely to grow across Pakistan in the coming months as the U.S. prepares to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, a move that many have predicted will provide encouragement to members of hardline Islamic groups like the Taliban.
Kharal said Parveen's relatives waited outside the court, which is located on a main downtown thoroughfare. As the couple walked up to the court's main gate, the family members fired shots in the air and tried to snatch her from Iqbal, he said.
When she resisted, her father, brothers and other relatives started beating her, eventually pelting her with bricks from a nearby construction site, Iqbal said.
Iqbal, 45, said he started seeing Parveen after the death of his first wife, with whom he had five children.
"We were in love," he told The Associated Press. He alleged that the woman's family wanted to fleece money from him before marrying her off.
"I simply took her to court and registered a marriage," infuriating the family, he said.
Butt, the police official, said Parveen's father surrendered after the incident and called the murder an "honor killing."
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private organization, said in a report last month that some 869 women were murdered in so-called honor killings in 2013.