The Other Side of Jihad -- Honor Killings

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Published June 11, 2010

| FoxNews.com

We usually associate jihadic warriors with fiery, anti-American and anti-Israeli sermons and with homicide bombings and airplane hijackings. We don’t think of jihadists as homebodies or in terms of their family relationships.

But we should.

Islamic fundamentalism (Islamism) is associated both with terrorism—and with Islamic gender apartheid. Thus, Islamists demand that their women shroud themselves, marry their first cousins, serve their brothers and father as domestic servants, keep quiet about routine daughter--and wife--battering, and keep away from infidel influences. 

If they don't, they risk being honor murdered. 

Not all Muslims are Islamists. Many are anti-Islamists, dissidents, moderates, secular, or apostates. I know, because I work with such people. 

But, show me a jihadist and I’ll show you someone who believes in polygamy, demands that his women wear the Islamic veil, keep away from “foreigners,” and remain totally obedient and subordinate to him. If not, their lives are in danger. And they are warned about this repeatedly.

Not all honor killers actually hijack airplanes—but they probably support those who do. 

Incredibly, young immigrant girls or first generation citizens are being murdered by their own families in honor killings in the West. In order to prevent such murders, it is important to understand that honor killings differ significantly from western-style domestic violence. However, when an honor killing occurs here, the police, as well as Islamist and feminist groups, still insist that the murder is just like domestic violence everywhere. But that is not true.

- In 1989 in St. Louis, 16-year-old Palestina Isa was murdered by her father and mother because they saw her as “too American” and because she was friendly with an African-American boy. 

- In 2000, 25-year-old Jaswinder Kaur was murdered by her mother and uncle because she had married someone deemed inappropriate by her wealthy Sikh family. 

- In 2007 in Ottawa, Canada, 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez was murdered by her father and brother because she refused to wear the Islamic veil. 

- In 2008, in Dallas, teenage sisters Sarah and Amina Said were lured by their mother and murdered by their father who was outraged by their “Western” ways. 

- In 2009, in Peoria, Arizona, 20- year-old Noor Al-Maleki was murdered by her father (with support from her mother and brother). Faleh ran over his daughter with a two-ton jeep. Noor’s family felt dishonored by her flight from an arranged marriage and by her sexually liberated American lifestyle, which included wearing tight jeans and makeup.

Western fathers and mothers do not routinely murder their young daughters or for such reasons. 

According to my new study in Middle East Quarterly, such classic killings have accelerated significantly over the last twenty years. The study examined the fate of 230 victims on five continents. I found that Muslims committed 96% of these murders in Europe, 84% in North America, and 91% worldwide. Sikhs and Hindus committed the rest. There may be a more significant Hindu involvement in honor killings where caste has been violated but such killings take place mainly in India, and not in the West.

My study also documents that two types of honor killings and/or two distinct victim populations exist. One group’s average age is seventeen; the other group’s average age is thirty-six. Both groups are murdered because they are seen as “too Western,” “too independent,” or because they have engaged in a “sexual impropriety”—even if only an imagined one.

Thus, immigrant girls and women are at special risk in the West. Those who exercised their option to assimilate were killed in particularly gruesome ways. 

In Europe, 68% of such killings were torturous, agonizing. Girls and women were stabbed 20-40 times, raped and set on fire, bludgeoned to death, beheaded, beaten, stoned. These women were tempted by Western freedoms. They did not want to wear religious clothing, they wanted to go to school, have careers, wear western clothing, have non-Muslim friends, and marry for love. 

Such murders may be intended as an object lesson for other female immigrants who are expected to lead subordinated and segregated lives amid the temptations and privileges of freedom.

The level of primal, sadistic, or barbaric savagery shown in honor killings often approximates the murders in the West perpetrated by serial killers against prostitutes or randomly selected women. 

This suggests that gender separatism, the devaluation of girls and women, normalized child abuse—as practiced in an era of Islamism and jihadism, may lead to femicidal levels of aggression towards girls and women.

This culture of honor killings may reflect or even create a climate in which barbaric jihad seems normal, even desirable.

Honor-related violence, including honor killings cannot be justified in the name of cultural relativism, religious tolerance, anti-racism, diversity, or political correctness. These acts are human rights violations and crimes. 

As long as Islamist groups continue to deny, minimize, or obfuscate the problem, and government and police officials accept their inaccurate versions of reality, women will continue to be killed for honor in the West.

Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D. is emerita professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969), the National Women’s Health Network (1975) and the author of thousands of articles and of thirteen books, including "Women and Madness" (1972), "Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman" (2002) and "The New Anti-Semitism" (2003). She may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com.

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