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Beheadings and Honor Killings By: Phyllis Chesler
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, February 20, 2009


She was an accomplished, professional woman, in her late thirties, a wife, and a mother. But her husband beat her. Terribly, and for a long time. Finally, after much suffering, she worked up the courage to leave him. That's when, acting on his own, he killed her.

No, I am not talking about Aasiya Z. Hassan in Buffalo. I am talking about the 1999 St. Clairsville, Ohio case of Dr. Lubaina Bhatti Ahmed.

I know: All the major Muslim organizations, and the mainstream media, continually say that these deaths are examples of domestic violence. They say that domestic violence is a plague that afflicts women of all cultures and religions and which has nothing to do with Islam.

And yet, these very organizations say the exact same thing when young teenagers like Palestina Isa in St Louis, (1989) Aqsa Parvez in Toronto (2007) and Sarah and Amina Said in Dallas, (2008) or when young woman in their twenties like Sandeela Kanwal of Atlanta (2008) are murdered by their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and male cousins. The organizations and media deny that the classic honor killings are, indeed, honor killings, and that such honor killings have anything to do with Islam. Please read the kinds of things they routinely say in my study, just published in MEQ HERE.

Only now, perhaps for the first time, are the Muslim organizations saying that the Buffalo case does not resemble a "real" honor killing (see above), because the man acted alone, there was no family collusion, and there had been a long history of domestic violence.

Although my study found that the majority of honor killings in the West are not of wives but of daughters--let's compare the 1999 Ohio case and the 2009 Buffalo case.

Both families are Pakistanis, both husbands were "successful" in America. Both wives had professional training and careers. Both women were in their late thirties, both had two children, both marriages had a history of terrible domestic violence, both wives, after much suffering, finally dared to leave and to sue for divorce. Indeed, this sounds like a western-style domestic violence/femicide.

However, here is one sign that both femicides may also be Islamic-style honor killings. Both murders involved sensational overkill. Although Hasssan will be pleading "not guilty," and did not confess his guilt to the police, after years of beating and threatening her, Hassan's wife was found beheaded in Hassan's office--after she had him ejected from his own home. In my view, really, who else could have done this? How did Hassan know that her head and her body were there?

Barbarianism describes what happened in St. Clairsville as well. Nawaz Ahmed, a former pilot in the Pakistani army, cut his physician-wife's throat--and, for good measure, cut the throats of her father, her sister, and her sister's child.

Although both men acted alone, I would nevertheless still argue that both men acted with the full cultural entitlement of Pakistani male Muslim culture. Hence, the murderous overkill.

It is true: Beheadings sometimes occur in the West but this occurs when serial killers murder prostituted women or once, when a student went on a berserk rampage. A beheading is an act committed against a stranger, not against a wife. Granted, many cases of Western-style domestic violence/femicide can also be gruesome; but, they do not involve beheading and they do not routinely involve killing the wife and the wife's family members because they dared to support her move away from violence.

Let's consider two other cases in America which involved Muslim men who were domestically violent and who, seemingly, acted alone.

In 2000, in Chicago, Shapara Sayeed, aged 33, was burned alive by her Pakistani husband, Mohammed Haroon. They had allegedly been "fighting for a long time." It looks like another case of western-style domestic violence/femicide except for the method of murder: Immolation, which is associated with the Muslim honor killings both of intimate family women and of women who are seen as not "covered" enough, too "western" by the Taliban, etc.

In 2002, in Jersey City, New Jersey, another victim, aged 29, was Marlyn Hassan, who refused to convert from Hinduism to Islam. Her husband, Alim Hassan, a Guyanese Muslim, stabbed her to death while she was late in pregnancy with his twin children--and he also stabbed her sister and her mother. Again, gruesome overkill.

In the St. Clairsville, Chicago, New Jersey and Buffalo cases we discern what may happen to a Muslim wife who lives in America and who acts as if she is entitled to certain rights. All died horrible deaths, the kinds of deaths these days, that are visited upon infidels and upon enemy Muslims who belong to the "wrong" Muslim sect, clan, tribe, or family.

In both the Ahmed and Hassan cases, from the husband's point of view: These wives took the kids away from their father (who, in his view, literally belong to him, not her). Ahmed moved away, Hassan had her husband ejected from "his" home, (which, from the husband's point of view, belongs only to him, not to her). Both wives exposed their husband’s violence instead of staying to absorb it. From a Pakistani, Muslim, male point of view, both wives deserved to die.

Yesterday, World Net Daily reminded us about beheadings in the Islamic world. I am reprinting their article here in part:

“Beheadings are more common in Hassan's former homeland of Pakistan and throughout the Islamic world:

Just a week ago, Taliban terrorists in that country beheaded a Polish geologist abducted in an effort to arrange a prisoner swap.

An American U.N. worker, John Solecki, is currently facing a similar fate at the hands of Islamic terrorists in that country.

Terrorists in Pakistan video recorded the beheading of American reporter Daniel Pearl.

Terrorists in Iraq video recorded the beheading of American Nicholas Berg.

Beheading is a common form of execution in Saudi Arabia.

Beheading is a common way to conduct a so-called "honor killing" – the murder of a wife – throughout the Islamic world.”


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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