Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Memo To Mohammed Elmasry: Honour Killings Are A Distincly Muslim Problem

Phyllis Chesler:

On February 12, 2009, Muzzammil Hassan informed police that he had beheaded his wife. Hassan had emigrated to the United States 30 years ago and, after a successful banking career, had founded Bridges TV, a Muslim-interest network which aims, according to its website, "to foster a greater understanding among many cultures and diverse populations." Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III told The Buffalo News that "this is the worst form of domestic violence possible," and Khalid Qazi, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York, told the New York Post that Islam forbids such domestic violence. While Muslim advocacy organizations argue that honor killings are a misnomer stigmatizing Muslims for what is simply domestic violence, a problem that has nothing to do with religion, Phyllis Chesler, who just completed a study of more than 50 instances of North American honor killings, says the evidence suggests otherwise.

A muslim man's decision to behead his wife or daughter for reasons of collective honour - also known as an honour killing - is simply categorized as murder in Canada and the United States. As far as the legal system is concerned, a person's motivation for murdering someone is perfectly irrelevant.

This is not only absolutely appropriate, but crucial to a fair and liberal legal system. The law must be confined to delimiting the freedom of action of individuals. One's motivation for the action of murder has no bearing on its permissibility. It is not the state's role to punish socially unacceptable thoughts.

However, the fact that no legal distinction between honour killings and murder is necessary does not exempt the barbaric practice from rational scrutiny, nor does it mean that honour killings are merely another variation of simple domestic violence.

Phyllis Chesler's study analyzes 50 cases of honour killings in North America and determines that, despite the claims of muslim advocacy organizations that honour killings have nothing to do with Islam, they represent a manifestly muslim problem to be considered as distinct from domestic violence.

Chesler's study begins:

Families that kill for honor will threaten girls and women if they refuse to cover their hair, their faces, or their bodies or act as their family's domestic servant; wear makeup or Western clothing; choose friends from another religion; date; seek to obtain an advanced education; refuse an arranged marriage; seek a divorce from a violent husband; marry against their parents' wishes; or behave in ways that are considered too independent, which might mean anything from driving a car to spending time or living away from home or family. Fundamentalists of many religions may expect their women to meet some but not all of these expectations. But when women refuse to do so, Jews, Christians, and Buddhists are far more likely to shun rather than murder them. Muslims, however, do kill for honor, as do, to a lesser extent, Hindus and Sikhs.

The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women are killed each year for dishonoring their families.[2] This may be an underestimate. Aamir Latif, a correspondent for the Islamist website Islam Online who writes frequently on the issue, reported that in 2007 in the Punjab province of Pakistan alone, there were 1,261 honor murders.[3] The Aurat Foundation, a Pakistani nongovernmental organization focusing on women's empowerment, found that the rate of honor killings was on track to be in the hundreds in 2008.

As you may recall, this issue is highly relevant to Canadians in light of the Aqsa Parvez honour killing that occurred in Toronto in 2007, a murder which was dismissed by the infamous Mohammed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress as a teenager issue and not an Islamic issue.

Chesler identifies the root of the problem as follows:

The problem the West faces is complex. Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus view honor and morality as a collective family matter. Rights are collective, not individual. Family, clan, and tribal rights supplant individual human rights

As this study demonstrates, it is as clear as day that honour killings are a distinctly Islamic problem. This fact must be acknowledged before it can be addressed.

This is a highly salient topic at the moment. I very much encourage you to read the essay in its entirety.

H/t Michael Rubin

Stumble Upon Toolbar