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Posted in: Honor Killings

Published on Jul 09, 2008 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

CNN Newspeak in Atlanta: Honor Killing=Cultural Misunderstanding

Pakistani=South Asian; Muslim=Holy Man/Victim


Good afternoon dear people!

Well, this time, the mainstream media is actually beginning to cover the honor murder in Atlanta. I do not understand why they never covered the honor murder of the Said sisters in Dallas about which I have previously written many times at this blogsite. But–in only a matter of days, CNN not only wrote about it; they also turned to an alleged expert who says that honor murders are no different than domestic violence cases world-wide.

On July 9th, CNN posted a piece HERE about the Atlanta case in which a Pakistani man has been charged with killing his 25-year old daughter. CNN turned to Columbia University Associate Dean of multicultural affairs, Ajay Nair, who is quoted as saying:

"My immediate reaction was that this is an anomaly in the South Asian community… Most South Asian-American families enjoy wonderful relationships within their families. I think there's ways that we can rationalize it and make sense of it, particularly in thinking about new immigrant communities in the U.S. and thinking about some of the struggles that they face and the generation gap and the cultural differences that children do face," he said. "I think there are some issues there, but by and large, this isn't a rampant problem within South Asian communities. What is a problem, I think, is domestic violence, and that cuts across all communities. I think more people need to recognize this as a global issue. It's not just a U.S. issue. I think it happens across the world, and I think people need to recognize domestic violence and any kind of violence related to women as a serious, serious issue."

Nair said he believes a "significant human rights campaign" is needed to address such killings.

Well, I agree with Nair about the campaign but about little else. I am working on an academic piece about this right now for Daniel Pipes and do not want to steal my own thunder but for example: Most (non-Muslim/non-South Asian) batterers do not kill their daughters or wives and when and if they do, they are not seen as "heroes" or "martyrs" and they are not protected by their families and communities. They are rarely prosecuted in their home countries.

What is Nair doing at Columbia? Why is CNN turning to him as opposed to a Muslim or "South Asian" feminist activist? A non-Muslim feminist activist?

Excuse me: If honor killings are a world-wide problem that is because Muslims/ South Asians live in more than 50 Muslim countries as well as in the West. Between 30-40 million new and second-, third- or fourth-generation immigrants currently live in Europe.

Read the CNN article. You will also see how careful they are to quote police officers who themselves were oh-so-careful in their remarks. God forbid that anyone would say anything that might be construed as "anti-Islamic" or as "Islamophobic." Charges and headlines would be brought; the politically correct police would be out in full force.

I agree: Prejudice against anyone because of their skin-color, religion, country of origin, or immigrant status is unacceptable. One of the best things about America is the fact that we actually fought a Civil War on our own soil to end slavery–a practice which is still a custom in the Arab and Muslim world, especially in Saudi Arabia. SEE HERE. Americans also bravely demonstrated for abolition, then for racial equality, and then we passed additional civil rights laws. In terms of our history, it is symbolically thrilling that one of our Presidential candidates is now an African-White American.

You don't see many Christians or Jews being elected in Saudi Arabia–not even for dogcatcher–do you? Elected? You don't see them displaying any religious symbols on the streets or practicing their religion behind closed doors in The Kingdom. This is currently also true today on the streets of London and Paris.

So: Will somebody please help me out? Since Muslims come in all colors and hail from many geographical regions, how exactly is it "racist" to describe certain Muslim practices (such as polygamy, arranged marriage, temporary marriage, veiling, purdah, or honor murders) accurately? How will it help the police and the judiciary in the West to defend society against what we view as legal crimes if newspapers describe crimes committed by Muslims–especially in the name of Islam, including acts of torture and terrorism–as having been committed by "youths," "South Asians," "militants," "immigrants," and by "the oppressed?"

Please send me your thoughts.


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