Henriette Karra
Henriette Karra

On the day after her high school graduation party, Henriette Karra, 17, confided in a relative her plans to become a Muslim for her boyfriend.

Karra, an Arab Israeli, knew that her Christian family in Ramle, a city in central Israel, would be furious. Her parents had made it clear during Henriette’s year of dating her Muslim boyfriend, also an Arab Israeli, that they considered the relationship a shame to the family.

They allegedly beat and threatened her in an attempt to break up the relationship, prompting her to report the violence to police, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Her boyfriend was in prison at the time, but was scheduled to get out at the end of the week. On June 13, she told her relative of her plans to be with him. The relative then called her father, telling him Henriette’s intentions.

Then, on that same day, police found Henriette dead in her parent’s kitchen, with multiple stab wounds in her neck.

On Sunday, about a month after Henriette’s death, Israeli police charged her father, Sami Karra, with murder, Israeli media outlets reported. Authorities allege Karra killed his daughter over his “vehement opposition” to her relationship with the young Muslim man and her intentions to convert to Islam for him, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing a criminal indictment. Karra’s attorneys asserted their client’s innocence and criticized what they claimed was a lack of forensic evidence in the case.

Henriette’s death last month spurred protests in her hometown and outrage from community leaders and lawmakers who claimed the authorities, knowing about the teenager’s dangerous family environment, did not do enough to protect her.

“The school knew about the problem, the neighbors knew about the problem,” Samah Salaime, founding director of Arab Women in the Center, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The painful thing is she complained. She was in the police station a week before she died.”

Salaime, whose organization focuses on combating gender-based violence against women, has met with the teenager’s relatives and community members to learn more about her case. She said the killing underscored the problem of widespread violence against women, including a string of killings of Israeli-Arab women.

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The Washington Post