Posted in: Honor Killings
Published on Oct 22, 2008 by Phyllis Chesler
The FBI Was Right. Why They Stopped Calling Yaser Said an Honor Killer.
Ten months after their deaths, the FBI finally described Yaser Abdul Said’s murder of his two daughters as an “honor killing.” I wrote about it HERE. Fox News also did. However, within ten-twelve days, the FBI deleted this description from their Most Wanted poster. Once again, Fox News wrote about it. Most kindly, Fox’s journalist, Maxim Lott, interviewed me for both articles.
At the time of the deletion, several people told me that the “FBI had flip-flopped” and that “I should take them on and take them down.” Oh yeah. Instead, I sat down and thought it through.
It is entirely possible–but not likely–that the FBI simply caved in to Islamist political pressure. The local Dallas chapter of CAIR was not happy about the honor killing designation and the CAIR representative, Mustafaa Carroll, was quite vocal about it. Thus, perhaps the FBI did not want to deal with lawsuits about their singling out Muslims-only for certain crimes. Perhaps Islamists or politically correct civil libertarians within the bureau insisted that this was too sensitive an area, a real political minefield. But I don’t think this was the only or even the primary motive for the deletion.
The original poster did not say “Muslim honor killer;” other groups, Hindus and Sikhs, for example, also engage in the honor killing of their women. It is also possible that the FBI did not want to deal with numerous media requests for their position on “honor killings,” a complicated crime with which our laws have yet to deal.
So here’s what I think: If indeed Yaser Abdul Said is still hiding in the United States–and is being sheltered by other Muslims–imagine it from their point of view. If they are strangers, not blood relatives, would they be more or less likely to turn him in if they learned he was a common murderer or if they learned that the FBI was pursuing him because he was a Muslim? Or a Muslim honor killer? Since the FBI is clearly interested in capturing him, perhaps they concluded that advertising Said as an honor killer might limit their chances of success.
Some Muslims view honor killings as the only way a family can cleanse itself from having been dishonored. To them, an honor killer might be seen as a hero. Thus, designating Said as an honor killer might endear them to him and lead to his being safely sheltered for a longer period of time. Other Muslims may disapprove of honor killings entirely but might also see the designation as a way in which Western culture might choose to unfairly stigmatize all Muslims. Thus, the more moderate Muslims might also be less inclined to “get involved” in turning another Muslim in.
There is no doubt in my mind: Said did honor kill his two young and vivacious daughters. But, I understand why the FBI might have changed the wording on the poster.
When I publish my paper on honor killing in the West, I plan to send a copy to the FBI in Dallas right away. Perhaps it will help move things along.
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