There are two honor killing trials currently underway in the United States: one in Tucson, another in Buffalo. Both defendants are Muslims and both murdered Muslim women. Iraqi born Faleh Almaleki mowed his 20 year-old daughter Noor down in cold blood after she refused an arranged marriage to an Iraqi national and chose a future husband, American-style, all by herself. Yes, Almaleki stalked her and mowed his too-American daughter Noor right down in a two ton jeep and then, with the help of Noor’s mother, his wife, and their son, fled to Europe, where he was captured.
The second defendant, Pakistani-born Muzzammil Syed Hassan, beheaded his 36-year-old third wife Aasiya, whom he had savagely battered for years, after she sued him for divorce; he also stabbed her 60 times.
In my research on honor killing, I discovered that there are two very different groups of victims world-wide: One has an average age of 17; the other has an average age of 36. These two women represent each kind of victim.
Their killers are both brazen, practiced liars and bullies; their lies take my breath away. Hassan is acting as his own lawyer. He claims that he was the “abused” spouse, emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes physically. The fact that he weighed twice as much as Aasiya counts for little in his lexicon of self-pity. Hassan has subpoened the judge, the prosecutors, and the media who have been covering his trial; he has been forced to withdraw these subpoenas. Hassan has also claimed that the “doctors” whom he expected to testify for him as the “abused” spouse have been biased or scared away by the “bad media” coverage.
Almaleki equated his daughter to a “small fire” which had to be extinguished in order to keep his house from burning down. Nevertheless, he is now arguing that he only meant to “spit” at Noor’s female protector and lost control of his 4,000 pound car “by accident.”
If you have lived among Muslims (and I have), you will understand that western concepts of objective truth do not exist. But, for that matter, if you have lived long enough among western leftist relativists (and I have, I have), you will come to a similar conclusion. Hence, consider the following.
A military friend tells me that “When you’re taking flak you know you’re over your target.”
From that point of view, I am certainly over my target. Both my academic and journalistic work on honor killing and on Islamic gender apartheid have not only led to harsh criticism but, in my view, may also have partly led to an upcoming international conference at Australian National University in Australia: “Honour Killing across Culture and Time.”
“Honour-motivated violence is a trans-historical and cross-cultural phenomenon, yet it has recently become a metonym for Islamic and anti-modern cultures.”
Yes—it is a trans-historical and cross-cultural phenomenon, but that is because Islam has colonized every continent and, unlike Christianity and Judaism, has failed to abolish this form of misogynist barbarism.
The conference description is couched in postmodern language which asks: “How is honour embodied and performed in ways that lead to gendered violence?” “How do status anxieties and social asymmetries contribute to honour killing?” “How do anti-violence strategies negotiate competing claims of human rights and cultural relativism?” “How are personal and familial honour-related killings distinguished from collective public and state violence?”
And there you have it.
“Social asymmetries” (no doubt caused by western imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism) are probably responsible for “honour killing;” and the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are far more violent than…individual, domestic “honour killings.”
Clearly, this conference wants to defend Islam from being seen as the only group which is violent towards women. Such a perception is deemed to be “racist” and “Islamophobic.”
However, most honor killings are Muslim-on-Muslim and, while it is true that Hindu and Sikh honor killings do exist, they are mainly confined to India and do not accompany Hindu and Sikh immigrants into the West. This skittishness, this refusal to name reality is like the British media omission of “Muslim” from their coverage of “Asian” gangs who prey upon mainly “white” girls. In other words, Muslim gangs, from southeast Asia, namely from Pakistan and Bangladesh, rape, kidnap, then force young white British teenagers into sordid lives of prostitution. The British media do not mind tarring and feathering Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Buddhists, Hindus or Sikhs with their broad “Asian” stroke.
A writer, an activist usually has no way of knowing whether their work is effective, influential, that it actually speaks truth to power or, more important, saves real lives. For some time now, I have been privileged to have been asked to testify, via affidavit, in a number of averted honor killing cases. All but one of these cases are still underway. Earlier this week, I received very good news which I would like to share.
I was asked to provide an affidavit for an African woman who refused to become an elderly Muslim man’s sixth wife. She is a woman who had secretly converted to Christianity, married another African Christian man and fled to the United States on a forged passport. She is now being held by immigration authorities. Were she to be deported, she would first face being genitally mutilated, and then honor murdered, for fleeing, for marrying, and for converting. My affidavit has, apparently, thus far, kept this poor soul in our blessed country. Her advocate told me that she has just heard from the prisoner’s husband.
He did tell me that it was your affidavit and my letter that has kept X in the US thus far. There were 42 other refugee claimants in the prison with her – but she was given a special paper that none of the others received. It was information about remaining in the US. Most of the others have now been deported, but X remains in prison. The lawyer says she has a very good case for going to the half way house in Y – set up for people such as X. Hers is a convoluted case to say the least…but her husband sends his gratitude to you for getting involved and endorsing what we know to be true for women in (this African country).
This is all I have to say to the conveners of the conference in Australia and to those who criticize my work on honor killing.
Save some lives, then get back to me with your politically correct theories.
Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D (website) is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York. She is an author, psychotherapist and an expert courtroom witness. She has lectured and organized political, legal, religious and human rights campaigns in the United States and in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. A popular guest on campuses and in national and international print, television, radio and online media, she has been an expert commentator on the major events of our time. She has lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, and in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. She currently resides in Manhattan