Noor Almaleki has just died in Arizona. May she rest in peace. May her murderer, her father, be brought to justice. My condolences to those who loved her.
May American justice prevail. The prosecutor has described this as an “attempted honor killing.”
At a court hearing over the weekend in Phoenix, county prosecutor Stephanie Low told a judge that Almaleki admitted to committing the crime.
“By his own admission, this was an intentional act and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family,” Low said. “This was an attempt at an honor killing.”
Last week, the Iraqi father who drove a two ton jeep over his daughter in Arizona for being “too westernized” high-tailed it out of town, drove down to Mexico where he abandoned his vehicle and caught a flight to London. UK Port of Entry authorities denied him entry, contacted US authorities and placed him back on a plane to the US. Almaleki was arrested when his plane landed in Atlanta, then returned to Arizona where he now sits in jail.
“Agencies involved included the US Marshalls Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, Arizona Department of Public Safety, officials in the United Kingdom, and officials from the Nogales and Sonora, Mexico Police.”
Hurrah for the combined law enforcement heroes in action.
What’s missing from the coverage (at least so far) is the usual Islamist spin. No hard-line representative of the Islamic community is insisting that this was not an “honor killing” or that if it was, it has nothing to do with Islam or with Muslims. That’s it’s a typical ‘teenage” thing or a typical case of domestic violence.
Which brings us to the second attempted honor killing story which might be a first of its kind. A woman, defending the honor of Islam, tried to kill her easy going husband. He lived–but the attempted murder was serious. Will Islamists defend and support her, embrace her as a good Muslim? Or shun her as a psychiatrically troubled woman?
Rabia Sarwar, a religious Muslim wife living on Staten Island in New York, attempted to murder her husband because he “enjoyed booze and pork and wanted her to dress in revealing clothing.” She claims he tried to force her to drink alcohol and eat pork too. Rabia piously tried to slit his throat. So far, the experts quoted on this case in the New York Post (Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Amil Imani) are actually talking about honor killings, mentioning the case of Rifqa Bary, Almaleki, and Sarwar in the same breath and relating them all to Islam. Imani is quoted as saying: “In the privacy of their home, Muslim parents will call every American woman a prostitute, every man corrupt.”
However, a more complex picture emerges in the True Crime Report version of this case, one which explains that Rabia and her family feel utterly deceived by Rabia’s husband, who was no “Sheikh Naseem” but was really “Eddie,” a man who was married twice before, is a Norwegian-Pakistani, and actually a Unitarian!
”But after they married, she found that he’d mostly dated white women, had been married before and liked to drink. He’d also said he was a devout Muslim, but she later discovered he was Unitarian. She further wrote that his favorite writer was Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, which caused such a stir in the fundamentalist Muslim world that Iran officially put a hit on Rushdie.”
According to InfidelsareCool: “I tried my best to cut his throat,” Ms. Sarwar admitted, according to court papers. Except Naseem woke up during the attempt, and took the knife from her, authorities said. According to Ms. Sarwar’s attorney, Joseph Licitra, Naseem “was a cruel person, he preyed on her.”
The day before the incident, “he literally threatened to have her parents mutilated,” Licitra said.
My guess: Islamists will portray Rabia Sarwar as mentally ill, not as an honorable enforcer of the tribal custom of slaughtering those who stray from the straight-and-narrow. (Eddie certainly thinks she’s crazy too and claims that’s she’s done time in a loony bin). Indeed, Muzzammil Hassan (the Buffalo man who beheaded his long-battered wife Aasiya), is already jockeying for a mental health expert who can describe his state of mind as “extremely emotionally distressed.”
If you have read any versions of the Almaleki or Sarwar cases in which their relationship to “honor killing” is denied, minimized, relegated to the realm of one, lone, deranged, and unbalanced perpetrator—please send them my way.
One of my regular and eloquent commentators has written that she
fears that by focusing on honor killings, I am somehow minimizing
other acts of “extreme domestic violence not involving Islam.” She wonders whether my “ultimate,” and “troubling goal (might be) to create
higher penalties for those crimes you deem Islamic honor killings?” She writes:
“Will you sacrifice the dignity and legal rights of non-Islamic
murder victims to achieve this? You are already insisting that
there is some type of conspiracy when the media does not talk
enough about these cases: I could send you the names of a thousand murder victims who received no attention in the media since you
started this campaign. Do they not matter too? Each was killed by somebody’s hand. Each was victimized by somebody (who) believed
they had the right to take their life for some reason.
Documenting the phenomenon of honor killing is important. Being
certain that the perpetrators are prosecuted is important.
Prevention is important. But when you begin to demand that the
media behave in a different way towards these crimes, you lose me.
That is privilege, not justice. And if you believe the law
should treat these cases differently, what you are demanding is
both privilege and prejudice — this is why the hate crimes movement has been so damaging…. Murder is murder. All victims must be equal
in the eyes of the law.”
These are important concerns. However, her fears are unfounded. Still, many women, especially feminists who work with the female victims of domestic violence, have seen so much violence against women go unpunished and unreported–that they are leery about the “new kid on the block” so to speak, the new Miss Sexy Victim, who is experienced as almost purposely taking attention away from the droves of more ordinary victims. They are also uncomfortable with singling out only one group of perpetrators, especially an immigrant and Muslim group.
I rarely hear such criticism from most male law enforcement officers who just jump right in to catch any killer they can. They do not focus on all the killers they don’t catch.
At the time of the Buffalo Aasiya Hassan beheading, a coalition of
domestic violence workers sent an (unpublished) letter to the Erie County District Attorney’s office and to some media stating that this
was not an honor killing; that honor killings had nothing to
do with Islam; and that focusing sensationally on Muslim domestic violence only was not only racist but also served to render invisible the much larger incidence of both domestic violence and domestically violent femicide. They have a point but they also missed the point, namely, that apples are not oranges, and that honor killings are not like western domestically violent femicides.
In order to prevent and prosecute honor killings we must first understand what they are; who carries them out and why. As yet, we do not know how many honor killings take place in the West or in developing countries. In addition, shelter workers for battered girls and Women will have to be trained to recognize who might be a potential target of an honor killing. Otherwise, they will just send the girls home to certain death.