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Iraqis spared jail time in Arizona for abusing female relative

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Members of an Iraqi family in Arizona who beat a teenage relative and padlocked her to a bed after she violated their traditional values by chatting to a male friend were spared jail time in a plea deal approved by a county judge on Tuesday.

In exchange for a guilty plea, Yusra Farhan, 51, was sentenced to two years probation on a charge of unlawful imprisonment of her daughter, 19-year-old Aiya Altameemi, at the family's Phoenix home in February, court officials said.

The young woman's father, Mohammed Altameemi, also received two years probation for disorderly conduct, and her 18-year-old sister, Tabarak Altameemi, received an identical sentence for assault, officials said.

Prosecutors said the incident started when Aiya was spotted leaving her high school with a young man. The father and younger daughter Tabarak confronted the young woman.

Police said Mohammed Altameemi became angry and took her home, striking her several times. Mother Farhan and daughter Tabarak also admitted to tying her to a bed with a rope around her waist that was secured with a padlock and beat her, according to court records.

Farhan told police she hit her daughter because she "was speaking to a male subject and her Iraq culture states a female is not allowed to be having contact with males because females are not allowed to have boyfriends," court records said.

Aiya told school officials about the incident two days later and explained that "her family is trying to protect her and they want her to be a virgin for an arranged marriage," according to court documents.

A county attorney spokesman declined comment on the sentence. Attorneys for the young woman's family members could not be reached for comment.

This is the latest high-profile violence case in Arizona involving an Iraqi immigrant. In April 2011, Faleh Hassan Almaleki received 34 1/2 years in prison for running down his 20-year-old daughter in a Phoenix parking lot in what was described as an "honor killing."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, D.C., has said such cases are isolated instances that occur sporadically and are widely chastised by the American Muslim community.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Stacey Joyce)

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