Aug 19 2009

The penalty for “honor killing” in Islamic nations: about like that for spitting on the sidewalk

Category: arab,Fatah,Hamas,Islam,Israelharmonicminer @ 9:13 am

The sentences for so called “honor killings” in Islamic nations are so light, when they are imposed at all, as to be an insult to the value of human life. In this case, a Gazan father killed his 27 yr old daughter by beating her to death with a chain over 40 minutes,  for using a cell phone to talk to a man.

In such killings, a woman’s life is taken by male relatives who suspect her of inappropriate conduct. Such killings are still widespread in the Middle East, where a woman’s perceived misconduct can hurt the standing of a family and where tradition says the “stain” can only be removed by shedding her blood.

Traditionally, assailants have received light sentences, but the killing of Najjar shocked even activists used to detailing such crimes.

Mezan and the PCHR said that Najjar’s father used an iron chain to beat her, while also kicking and punching her for about 40 minutes until she died of a fatal blow to the head, said Mezan and the PCHR.

“It’s shocking,” said Samir Zakout of Mezan. “But it’s not surprising because killers know they won’t be punished harshly.”

In the West Bank and Gaza, “honor killing” assailants serve between six months and three years in prison, said Mona Shawa of PCHR.

In Jordan, officials said Wednesday they have set up special tribunals to deal with honor killings, hoping to speed up trials.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday that the Syrian government abolished a law that waived punishment for some honor killings and now allows judges to sentence perpetrators to at least two years jail.

This is simply beyond sad and horrifying. And it is a measure of how very far the world view of Islam is from that of the West.

However, do not expect “justice week” at your local university to have “honor killing” as a topic.  They’ll be too busy bashing Israel for defending itself.  Or maybe being concerned about global warming or something really important like that. 

4 Responses to “The penalty for “honor killing” in Islamic nations: about like that for spitting on the sidewalk”

  1. Kirsten says:

    I love that you bring this *feminist* issue to light, but would like to offer my two cents about the idea that “justice week” at the local university doesn’t talk about it. At the Claremont colleges, it’s a huge issue. And it’s not one ignored by everyone being labeled or labeling him- or herself as “leftist.” An example would be Dr. Riffat Hassan, who is working from within Islam (i.e., as a Muslim woman), to end violence against women in Pakistan: Such a viewpoint does not preclude or contradict an opinion that can also be critical of the use of military force, discrimination, and occupation by the Israeli army. (Nor does that mean one uncritically and unquestioningly supports terrorist groups like Hamas. I personally think it’s possible to be a Christian believer and find fault on “both” sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict–a position I don’t hear most pro-Israel friends admit.)

  2. harmonicminer says:

    I think most pro-Israel Christian friends that I have will admit that there is fault to be found on both sides. The question, as always, is one of degree. The AMOUNT of sheer evil practiced IN Muslim culture as well as what radical Islam tends to do to its enemies simply dwarfs what failings the Israelis may have, in my judgment.

    In other words, there is no moral equivalence. A study of the history of the conflict makes that pretty clear. Note that I don’t blame only Palestinian groups for the current situation. It is at least as much the fault of surrounding Islamic nations, for repeatedly invading Israel, killing its people in constant “small” attacks via terrorism, and even now continuing to threaten its very existence, all the while refusing to do what they could easily have done to ease the situation of Palestinians, if they had not wanted to keep it as a political tool with which to bash Israel.

    So yes, by all means find fault with both sides…. but it’s a pretty tough hill to climb to find *equivalence*, morally speaking, between the two sides.

    BTW, I honor Muslims who are trying to reform their religion from the inside… I link to some on this site, in fact, and have from the beginning of it. (See the link to American Islamic Forum for Democracy on my blogroll.) And I often link to and quote from But they have a tough row to hoe, because of what’s in the Koran and Hadith. Essentially, Christians had a Reformation by going back to their founding texts, not by ignoring large swaths of them. Islam will have to find a way to interpret out of existence much of its founding texts in order to reform itself, or a culturally permissible way to simply ignore them. And the problem will always remain that anyone who takes those texts seriously will be able to challenge the piety of those who don’t.

    I continue to doubt that the plight of women in Islam gets anything like the attention on college campuses that is received by many other issues. Given that Muslims hurt Muslim women more than Israelis do, wouldn’t you think that would get more play? But Israel bashing is higher education’s favorite sport, other than bashing anyone on the Right, or white males, or whatever. I suspect that even at Claremont, if you take the last five years and count the number of seminars and special sessions on each, you’ll see the tale of the tape telling the story. And, of course, Claremont is a positive hotbed of conservatism compared to most state schools.

  3. Kirsten says:

    Your points about moral equivalence are good ones–and I was not trying to imply anything other than it is not a black and white issue. I’m happy to hear that there are pro-Israel people who recognize the evil that has been committed on both sides. Unfortunately, those are not people with whom I have the pleasure of dialogue.

    As far as the reinterpretation–or the idea of going back to the “original” text–is concerned, I agree it is a long battle. Part of the problem, IMHO, is that the Qur’an as the literal Word of God (in Arabic) is harder to contend with than the inspired Word of God that the Bible is believed to be (though there are fundamentalist Christians who seem to have pretty inflexible views of biblical hermeneutics as well). It is *not* impossible, however. One of the most recent classes I took was “The Qur’an and Its Interpreters,” and at least among the academic Muslim scholars, there is much work on interpretive strategies to nuance many of the meanings. Actually, I recommend Farid Esack’s book The Qur’an: A User’s Guide for some really interesting (insightful and incite-ful) views on Qur’anic hermeneutics.

    And I think awareness is growing about the plight of women in radical Islamist regimes through the rise of transnational feminisms. But it is also not a reductionist, overly simplistic view that Muslim Man=Evil. (Which is *not* what I think you’re doing, btw.) It is the recognition that oppression and human rights violation transcends religious belief, culture, or even gender–and it attempts to analyze the way these intertwine to perpetuate violence and a destruction or severe infringement on freedom. (I also don’t think *freedom* will look the same everywhere, but that is the continual struggle between “universal human rights” and what are “cultural rights” or “political autonomy”–and defining what constitutes each. And a conversation for another time….)

  4. Bill Colton says:

    If Darwin was correct – should this behavior be surprising? Isn’t this just working out “the survival of the fitest”? Or, is it more appropriate to see it as “All have fallen short of the Glory of God”? Interesting discussion for today.

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