A group of Pakistani tribal leaders and Muslim clerics issued a death decree against 2 women and 4 men for dancing together at a wedding in a small village located in village called Gada, in the administrative district known as Kohistan, located in the mountainous Khyber Pakhtun Khwa Province, about 176 Km from Islamabad.
Sultan Muhammad, a resident of Gada, said," 2 women and 4 men were dancing and enjoying their friend`s wedding, were captured in a video. All of them are married, they were just dancing with joy. This video reached some local clerics, who immediately summoned other religious leaders and decided to call the person who made the video."
The person who made the video identified the people in the video, while the Muslim clerics summon them and their relatives to an Islamic court. Without listening to the testimony of the accused, the Muslim clerics issued a decree that men and women dancing together is un-Islamic act and must be condemned. Those accused are expected to be given a strict punishment, so as to discourage others from repeating the affront to Muslim sentiments.
The accused pleaded they were merely dancing, rather than anything un-Islamic. Since they themselves are Muslim, the accused argue, they would not commit anything un-Islamic. However, the Muslim clerics declared that they will receive the death penalty.
District Police Officer Abdul Majeed Afridi tried to intervene, but stood down in the face of tribal tradition. The higher courts in Pakistan have taken notice of these courts as illegal, but have done little to rein them in.
While the clerics decided that the men would be killed first, the condemned men managed to escape. At the moment, the women are safe but confined to their homes.
Pakistani human rights organizations have condemned the decision of the tribal court. Life for All Pakistan issued a statement condemning the incident, " We strongly condemn the ruling. This is a clear violation of Human Rights, the tribal courts for years have been announcing their ruling. The higher courts have been silent observers of the brutalities. Around 943 women and girls were murdered last year for allegedly defaming their family’s honor. The statistics highlight the scale of violence suffered by many women in Pakistan. "
On May 29, local press reported that police had arrested the cleric responsible for the judgement against the couples, along with his companion. The pair denied the accusation. A local official told the press that the cleric claims he had no role whatsoever in the death decree, but added that his name had been misused.
DPO Abdul Majeed Afridi said there appears to be tribal rivalry involved in an attempt to defame the families of the accused. The police chief said the video was recorded three years ago and then edited so as to implicate the party goers. He said that there is no danger posed to the women involved.