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How Honor Murderers Become Victims By: Phyllis Chesler
Pajamas Media | Thursday, March 13, 2008


Islam Said blames his sisters’ deaths on their boyfriends. On March 8, 2008, the Lewisville High School celebrated the lives of the honor murdered Amina and Sarah Said. Local media was there. I watched as Islam grabbed the microphone and characterized his sisters’ boyfriends as “gang members” who “killed his sisters.” He also said: “They pulled the trigger, not my dad. My dad is the victim here.”

It is absolutely crucial for Westerners, especially Americans, to understand his mind-set. This is a cultural and political mind-set which has nothing to do with the color of one’s skin and everything to do with one’s political ideology. Despite heated denial and much controversy, it is also a mind-set which is correlated with the practice of Islam in its current, highly politicized jihadic mode.

Thus, when anyone tries to describe the crimes against humanity which are committed in the name of Islam (the religion, not the man whom I quote above), both Muslims and politically progressive non-Muslim Westerners cry “racism.”

But this is a primitive/totalitarian tactic used to silence those who dare to expose injustice and who wish to resist terror and tyranny. The charge of “racism” is a rallying cry which is first used against dark-skinned Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents. The lovely dark-skinned ex-Muslim feminist freedom-fighter, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, has been characterized as a “racist” in Holland and in the pages of America’s Nation magazine. This fascist tactic works best among guilty, liberal Westerners who really do want to atone for or end the world’s awful history of racism.

The West crusaded against and finally abolished slavery. Many of us remain conflicted about its terrible legacy. Muslims have never launched a campaign against their own racism. The Arab Muslim slave trade continues to this day in many forms, both in the Middle East and in the West, especially among United Nations diplomats who are posted here.

Muslim employers in Saudi Arabia are not apologizing to their Philippina servants whom they imprison and routinely force to work around the clock as domestics and sex slaves. Ethnic Arab Muslims in Sudan are not guilty about gang-raping black African girls and women in Darfur—no more than they are guilty about genocidally exterminating black Africans who are also Muslims, Christians, and animists.

It’s the same mind-set that inspires Islam Said to view his father, Yasser Abdul Said, the honor murderer, as the true “victim.” The defender of the faith (whether that faith is conceived of as one’s religion or as one’s family “honor”) is always the glorious “victim.” Yes, even suicide killers who blow up innocent civilians in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and who gun down Jewish children in religious schools in Jerusalem are viewed as victims and martyrs. Their supporters do not view them as murderous aggressors nor do they view themselves as such.

While I would like to attribute Islamic gender and religious apartheid to a cluster of factors including normalized childhood abuse, poverty, a lack of education, and to a super-aggressive and non-introspective cultural psychology, it is also increasingly clear that many wealthy and well-educated Muslims, who live in Muslim lands and in the West, share the same views. Like Islam Said, quoted at the beginning of this article, many well-educated Muslims still view women as animals, (yes, perhaps as “sacred” animals), and they still view Jews and other infidels as unclean, poisonous prey.

The very trait which has been hated in religious Jews (the desire to live “apart,” to eat differently and perhaps to also dress differently), is deeply respected, even lionized when it appears among religious Muslims. Increasingly, all across America, Muslim women are wearing headscarves and burqas—in university settings and on the streets; Muslim communities are demanding and receiving separate eating and washing facilities, separate hours for recreational facilities or separate facilities, etc.

If such outward behaviors were not intimately linked to dangerous, often murderous apartheid beliefs and behaviors, I would have no objection. But that is not the case. For example, based on extensive interviews that I have done with the female relatives of the murdered Texas teenagers, it is clear that:

a) Amina and Sarah were expected to wear headscarves. Their failure to do so, their “hidden” lives as normal American teenagers, doomed them.

b) Amina and Sarah were expected to enter into arranged marriages against their will to much older Egyptian men whom they had never met. Their refusal to do so doomed them.

c) Amina and Sarah were expected to keep quiet about the horrific sexual, physical, and psychological abuse which was heaped upon them by their father, mother, and brother. Their failure to do so doomed them.

d) Amina and Sarah were not supposed to have “boyfriends.” At the very least, their friends, both male and female, were not supposed to be Christians. The fact that they were friendly with Christian male teenagers doomed them.

e) Amina and Sarah were supposed to learn to hate America and to choose Shari’a law. Their failure to do so doomed them.

These are only some of the “rules” that Amina and Sarah were expected to obey. One of my informants has quoted their brother Islam, who often stalked his sisters, as saying: “They knew the rules. They broke them.” Islam is saying that it is their fault that his father had to kill them.

Thus, whenever you see a woman in a face veil, headscarf, or burqa, it is very likely that these rules also apply to her.

For the record: Let me again repeat what I have written before, namely, that there are many individual Muslims who are personally peaceful and who favor human rights for everyone, even for women and infidels. There are also individual Muslims who oppose and who have fled Islamic apartheid regimes. However, most Muslim religious leaders do not condemn the barbarism committed in the name of their religion. (A brave handful do).

There were also individual Germans in the Nazi era who did not personally hate the mentally ill, Jews, gypsies, anarchists, homosexuals, or American and British soldiers; a few even risked their lives to save such targeted “enemies.” However, most Germans (and Poles, Austrians, Ukrainians, etc.) chose to profit opportunistically from the persecution of the Jews and refused to risk anything in order to resist Hitler. Their failure to do so meant that they enabled and collaborated with him. To quote Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men (and women) to do nothing.”

I stand ready and willing to honor and to work with all those Muslims and non-Muslims who oppose Islamic gender and religious apartheid. Our lives depend upon such heroism.


Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (2005). She has just published a new edition of Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2009). She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women's studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women's Health Network (1976). Her website is www.phyllis-chesler.com.


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