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Posted in: Honor Killings

Published on Nov 13, 2009 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Canada to Immigrants: No Tolerance for "Honor" Killing


The Canadian government has just revamped its citizenship guide for immigrants. The document is titled "The Rights and Responsibilities of Canadian Citizenship." According to Canada's National Post,

"In Canada, men and women are equal under the law," the document says. "Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, 'honour killings,' female genital mutilation or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada's criminal laws."

Western governments are beginning to wake up to dangerous or "barbaric" practices among immigrants—especially among Muslim immigrants. Whether such practices are pre-Islamic, non-Islamic, even anti-Islamic (and people have argued all of the above), the truth is that certain "barbaric" practices are most often committed by Muslims against Muslims. Sikhs and Hindus, to a much lesser extent, also commit honor murders.

Some scholars argue that the Qu'ran specifically supports and inspires such practices; other scholars argue the opposite case. One must note that Islam has, so far, failed to educate against or abolish certain "barbarisms," and has, instead, enshrined them in state shari'a law in Muslim states such as Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Somalia, and Sudan.

But something new may finally be afoot.

Canada has just sentenced a man, Yusef Al Mezel, the head of Ottawa's taxi union, to a year in jail for threatening—just threatening—very serious violence against his daughter. In 2007, the town council in Herouxville, Quebec passed a motion "governing the behavior of immigrants, including provisions against stoning women and genital mutilation."

It is not only Canada. For example, Britain has opened a special police section to deal with honor-related crimes, including honor-related violence and honor killings. They have the power to find and repatriate to Britain any British girl or woman who has been kidnapped to a foreign country such as Pakistan. The police also help hide the intended victims of an honor killing; police protection, new identities–fully the equivalent of America's federal witness protection program. Finally, Scotland Yard has also reopened cases that they now believe were honor killings but were not classified as such a decade ago.

All across Europe, debates about the creation of "grand mosques," whether polygamists should be allowed to live on the state dole, the genital mutilation of girls, normalized daughter- and wife-battering, and the forced veiling and shrouding of girls and women, continue to dominate headlines. I have written about this many times and have, many times, suggested that the United States should also begin thinking about these issues before it is too late. Solutions are complex, but first, we must first wrestle with the problem in order to find possible solutions.

I am quoted in two separate articles that appear in the National Post. However, neither mentions any of my thoughtfully radical solutions. Use your imagination. If a family collaborates in the honor murder of one of its members, and some remain bystanders to the crime, what might serve as a possible disincentive? Why not make it clear that western governments will not only jail, try, and sentence the murderer and all his accomplices but will also deport even the innocent ("bystander") members of the extended family? For immigrants who care deeply about their extended families, something like this might serve as the only disincentive.


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