STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. â€” A 37-year-old wife from New Brighton tried to slit her husbandâ€™s throat as he slept because he was not the devout Muslim she believed she married, and pressured her to eat pork and drink alcohol, authorities allege.
In a rambling, four-page handwritten confession, Rabia Sarwar laid out the "mental and emotional cruelty" that led to her trying to kill her husband, Susan Wagner High School teacher Sheikh Naseem, early yesterday morning, a law enforcement source said.
"I tried my best to cut his throat," Ms. Sarwar admitted, according to court papers. Except Naseem woke up during the attempt, and took the knife from her, authorities said.
According to Ms. Sarwar’s attorney, Joseph Licitra, Naseem "was a cruel person, he preyed on her."
The day before the incident, "he literally threatened to have her parents mutilated," Licitra said.
The way the law enforcement source describes it, Ms. Sarwar, who is Pakistani, told investigators that Naseem, who is half-Pakistani, had presented himself as a devout Muslim before the two had wed five months ago.
But after the marriage, she discovered more about him, she told investigators — before meeting her, he had only dated non-Muslims, and he considered Salman Rushdie to be one of his favorite authors.
Rushdie’s book, "The Satanic Verses," was reviled by hard-line Muslims for what they considered an unflattering portrayal of the prophet Mohammed, and in 1989, Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Rushdie calling for Muslims worldwide to kill him.
Ms. Sarwar also told investigators that Naseem pressured her into doing things that were against her religious beliefs.
"He made her do stuff that she didn’t like to do — eating pork, drinking alcohol, wearing short clothes. She did all of that to make him happy," the source said.
At about 3 a.m. yesterday, inside the couple’s 80 St. Mark’s Place apartment, Ms. Sarwar "snapped," the source said, cutting his neck, right cheek and right hand.
In an interview with the Post, Naseem said his wife was having a hard time adjusting to American culture.
"She was trying to live the way I live, but on the same token, she tells her parents: ‘I went out drinking with him,’ and her mother started making derogatory statements about me, " he told the paper. "There was no gun pointed to her head to do these things."