SAN ANTONIO – Abdulah and Hamdiya Al Hishmawi, a Muslim couple from Iraq, face felony charges for allegedly abusing their 16-year-old daughter because she didn't want to participate in an arranged marriage.
Muslim Children Education and Civic Center spokesperson Sakib Shaikh said that though arranged marriages are common in the Muslim religion and Middle Eastern cultures, there's no excuse for the alleged abuse.
"When the essence of your religion is love and compassion, I cant imagine how anyone could legitimize abuse to your children," Shaikh said.
Shaikh added that there are prohibitions against forcing boy or girl to get married.
"So, for example, a guy or girl would tell the parents they want to get married, and, in conjunction with the broader relatives, they would find someone suitable for them," Shaikh said.
He also said it's common for the man to give his future wife a gift, which could be money. Investigators said the man on the other end of the arranged marriage gave the family $20,000, but there's no telling if any of it was given to Maarib.
Court documents said that the abuse began when Maarib refused the marriage. Her parents allegedly beat her, and her mother is accused of pouring hot oil on her. Shaikh said it's the wrong way to react to a failed arranged marriage.
"If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen; there's no religiously mandated backlash or religiously mandated consequences," Shaikh said.
The Al Hishmawis say that the allegations against them are exaggerated. They're out on bond.
Abdulah Al Hishmawi told KSAT 12 News he hasn't stopped crying since the allegations came to light.
A formal indictment for the couple is expected within the next few months.