Al-Ghorbani v. Holder
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
585 F.3d 980 (2009)
Abdulmunaem Al-Ghorbani and Salah Alghurbani (plaintiffs) were brothers living in Yemen. While in college, Abdulmunaem became friends with Hussein Mohammed Mohamed Abu Taleb (Hussein). Hussein was a member of the Hamid clan, which was at the top of the social structure in Yemen. By contrast, Abdulmunaem was a member of the lowest class, Yemen’s meat cutters. Nevertheless, when Abdulmunaem met Hussein’s sister, Najla, the two fell in love and eventually wanted to marry. Hussein and Najla’s father, General Taleb, was a top general in the army. Abdulmunaem and his brother, Salah, asked General Taleb for permission for Abdulmunaem to marry Najla. When General Taleb learned that Abdulmunaem was from the Jezarene branch of the Al-Ghorbani family, General Taleb became outraged by the request, given the superiority of his own family. General Taleb kicked the brothers out and threatened Abdulmunaem. General Taleb physically assaulted Najla and refused to let her leave home. Later, Hussein helped Abdulmunaem and Najla marry in secret. When Hussein showed Abdulmunaem and Najla’s marriage contract to General Taleb, he shot Hussein in the chest. Hussein survived. General Taleb threatened to kill both Abdulmunaem and Najla, and he searched the country for them. Islamic law permitted honor killings, which allowed a father to kill his child without prosecution. When Salah did not reveal the couple’s location, General Taleb and his guards had Salah detained at a local police station without charge, where General Taleb’s guards tortured him for two months. Eventually, a sympathetic police officer helped to secure Salah’s release. Abdulmunaem, Salah, and their families fled to the United States (defendant), where, upon overstaying their visas, they applied for asylum based on membership in a particular social group through membership (1) in the same family and (2) in the group of westernized young people who oppose Yemeni marriage traditions. An immigration judge denied the application, and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirmed, reasoning that General Taleb’s motivation was merely a personal vendetta. Abdulmunaem and Salah filed a joint petition for review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Gilman, J.)
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