"As far as we're concerned, until the motive
is proven in a court of law, this is [just] a homicide," Mustafaa
Carroll, the executive director of the Council of American-Islamic
Relations in Dallas, told FOXNews.com.
he worries that terms like "honor killing" may stigmatize the Islamic
community. “We (Muslims) don’t have the market on jealous husbands ...
or domestic violence,” Carroll said.
Nations estimates that 5,000 women are killed worldwide every year in
honor killings — mostly in the Middle East, where many countries still
have laws that protect men who murder female relatives they believe
have engaged in inappropriate activity. A U.N. report includes chilling
examples of such cases.
“On the order of
clerics, an 18-year-old woman was flogged to death in Batsail,
Bangladesh, for "immoral behavior,” the report reads. “In Egypt, a
father paraded his daughter's severed head through the streets
shouting, ‘I avenged my honor.’”
But Islamic scripture in no way condones such actions, Carroll said.
"People have their own cultural nuances and norms from before they got their religion," he said. "This is not Islamic culture."
of whether religion itself is to blame, Gartrell said it is important
that society recognizes the case as having a cultural element, just to
prevent similar crimes in the future.
culture is so different," Gartrell said. "If people had been more
educated about it, they would have known that when the girls told
people, 'Dad wants to kill me' — they were serious."
Many of the threats against Sarah and Amina Said were known to their friends and classmates.
school friends told the Dallas Morning News that the girls sometimes
came in with welts and bruises, which they confided were inflicted by
their father. One time, Yaser Said reportedly went into one daughter's
bedroom waving a gun and making threats on her life.
he threatened to kill one daughter in December 2007 — documented in
text messages Sarah Said sent to a friend — the girls and their mother,
Patricia, fled from their home in Lewisville, Texas, to Tulsa, Okla.
But the mother soon had a change of heart and went back, leading to the
tragedy on January 1. Some, including Gartrell, believe the mother may
even have been complicit in the murders.
Phyllis Chesler, author of several books, including "The Death of
Feminism: What's Next in the Struggle for Women's Freedom," said that
the case fits the description of an honor killing.
premeditation, the family collaboration, and the particular rules (set
for the girls) make this consistent with an honor killing — not just
domestic violence,” she said.
She said she hoped that calling the case an "honor killing" might indicate a shift in attitude at the FBI.
think this may suggest that law enforcement is beginning to realize
that they may have to treat these incidents differently if they are to
either prevent or prosecute," Chesler told FOXNews.com.
noted that the United Kingdom has a special police unit to deal with
“honor-related violence,” and said that she hoped that the situation in
the U.S. does not get to the point where that becomes necessary.
an FBI spokesman played down the significance of the listing, saying
that the change on the wanted listing was simply due to more
information coming out about the case since it was first listed and
that it shouldn't matter what the case is called.
just looking at how do we find the guy?" said FBI special agent Mark
White, media coordinator in the bureau's Dallas office.
Police Department Public Information Officer David Tull agreed. "We
just look at the facts. The man killed his two daughters. This is a
domestic violence, multiple-capital murder case."
Tull said that, unfortunately, there have still been no sightings or major leads — a fact that distresses Gartrell.
very upset about it," said Gartrell, who argues that the case needs
special consideration. "This is not a typical murder case. When a
family member murders another family member to protect [the family]
name — that's different."
Click here to see the FBI's Wanted poster for Yaser Said.