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Posted in: Honor Killings

Published on Nov 30, 2009 by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Written for National Review Online: The Corner

No 'Honor'


USA Today has a piece today on honor killings in the United States:

Muslim immigrant men have been accused of six "honor killings" in the United States in the past two years, prompting concerns that the Muslim community and police need to do more to stop such crimes.

"There is broad support and acceptance of this idea in Islam, and we're going to see it more and more in the United States," says Robert Spencer, who has trained FBI and military authorities on Islam and founded Jihad Watch, which monitors radical Islam.

Honor killings are generally defined as murders of women by relatives who claim the victim brought shame to the family. Thousands of such killings have occurred in Muslim countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Palestinian territories, according to the World Health Organization.

Some clerics and even lawmakers in these countries have said families have the right to commit honor killings as a way of maintaining values, according to an analysis by Yotam Feldner in the journal Middle East Quarterly.

The story cites Phyllis Chesler, a professor of psychology and author (Women and Madness, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman, The Death of Feminism) who has been studying honor killings for The Middle East Quarterly. Chesler elaborates on the shameful reality to NRO:

Honor killings are escalating in a statistically significant way in the West and . . . they are primarily Muslim-on-Muslim crimes and crimes against girls and women. (Hindus and Sikhs also commit such family murders but to a far lesser extent.)

She continues: "Even if honor killings are a 'tribal' or pre-Islamic custom — Muslim religious authorities have done very little to teach Muslims that such murders are, indeed, 'anti-Islamic.' Indeed, in Sharia-compliant and Islamist countries or territories such as Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Gaza, etc., honor killings are public, 'legal,' and valorized; their perpetrators are rarely tried or given serious sentences."

Chesler explains that:

In pre-Islamic times in the Middle East, when the Biblical Dinah was kidnapped and raped by a local lord in what is now Nablus (Shechem), her brothers killed her rapist and all the men in his tribe. They did not kill the presumably dishonored Dinah. (True, they engaged in overkill and were severely criticized by other Jews for having done so. Also true: There are other examples in the Old Testament that show that adulteresses were also stoned to death.)

"But," she says, "that was then — it does not happen now among Jews." Where you see "honor killings" today is "in Islamic countries and among certain Muslim immigrants in the West," Chesler says. "Today, a Muslim girl or woman who wants to assimilate, integrate, and Westernize is seen as a prostitute, and her murder is planned and executed by her family of origin or, to a lesser extent, by her husband and either his or her family of origin."

Chesler makes clear that "not all Muslims kill their young daughters or murder their wives when they want to leave a violent marriage." But "some do. Such murders, unpunished, or lightly punished, serve as terrorizing object lessons to all other Muslim girls and women."


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