Chesler Chronicles

Muslim Honor Killing Elephants in the Room at the New York Times

Yesterday I posted a piece at FOX about the mainstream media’s extensive coverage of honor killings—but only if they are committed by Hindus and in faraway India. These media outlets will not use the word “honor killing” and “Muslim” or “honor killing” and “Islam” in the same sentence. For example, over this past weekend, the New York Times, no longer the Paper of Record, ran a front page article about a Hindu caste-related honor killing in Koderma, India.

The murdered young woman, Nirupama Pathak, a journalist, was a Brahmin, considered the highest caste; for more than a year, she was secretly engaged to a “top” fellow student who belonged to the “middle upper caste.” Ms. Pathak was also secretly pregnant. For her, there was no going back. And, unlike the law in many Muslim countries, the Indian law was on her side: Despite tribal tradition, inter-caste marriages are specifically permitted. Poor Nirupama was found dead in her bedroom in her family home. The family told the police, variously, that she had either electrocuted or hung herself. They produced a suicide note. However, according to an autopsy, it seems she had been suffocated. Since only her mother had been at home with her, her mother was arrested.

As I have noted before, media coverage of honor killings in the Indian media and picked up by their counterparts in the West has erupted recently and it is very intense. I am not suggesting that such killings are not taking place. I am noting, with surprise, that coverage of them is both rather sudden and overwhelming. Who and what may behind this is another question. However, to their credit, the Indian police are swiftly making arrests, the Indian Prime Minister is calling for a cabinet-level commission to legislate and enforce harsher penalties for such honor killings. One does not see a similar concerted effort in Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, or in the disputed Palestinian territories.

This pattern of focusing on Hindu but not Muslim honor killings holds true for the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times as well. True, the mainstream/leftstream media will sometimes cover Muslim honor killings in North America but oh-so-sparingly, glancingly, nervously, carefully—if at all. The pieces will be short, written by a wire service, buried on an inside page, sometimes consigned to a brief item on their website. Whenever the subject of a Muslim honor killing (or act of terrorism) does see the light of print, experts are invariably gathered to pronounce that such murderous deeds have nothing to do with Islam, that westerners do “it” too, that madmen often behave in such ways, that Muslims are no more guilty than anyone else.

Today, three days after their weekend front page story about the Hindu honor killing, the Gray Lady again devotes five paragraphs to an editorial about the same Hindu honor killing in India; they cover the rest of the world in only two paragraphs. Lest we forget, the editors repeat the fact that the Indian case involved “Brahmin Hindus” whose “caste” consciousness is part of the “Hindu religion.” However, true to form, they do not mention the religion of any other “honor” or horror” killers in the places they list such as the Middle East, Italy, Sweden, Brazil, and Britain.

Amazingly, they do not even list honor killings in the United States, which are on the rise. But “Brazil?” Surely, they jest. Seventy-four percent (74%) of Brazilians are Catholics; 15% are Protestants; 7.4% are listed as having “no religion”; 2.2 % are Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Spiritists; .05 % are Jews; .02% are Muslims and .002% are Hindus.

Is the New York Times actually confusing a “passion” or “machismo” killing with an “honor” or “horror” killing? I have actually had this very argument with a feminist who is brilliant in her understanding of western-style domestic violence. Still, she believes that the Brazilian doctrine of “machismo,” in which a man kills his girlfriend or wife in a fit of jealous passion because she is sleeping with another man– is the same as an “honor killing.”

Say what? In my two studies about honor killing, I explain that an honor killing is a carefully planned murder, that many family members (mothers, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, cousins, sisters, etc.) collaborate in both the planning and in the murder, that a torturous death is frequent. This is very different than when a husband who flies into a jealous and murderous rage when he finds his wife in bed with another man.

Since publishing these academic studies and writing about individual cases, I get called more and more frequently by reporters who are doing stories about honor killings. I was just interviewed this past Sunday about this subject by Aaron Klein (a great interviewer) on the John Batchelor program—and by Rabbi Barbara Aiello on WGUL in Tampa. Yesterday, Canada’s National Post called me about a new, possible honor killing. I have appeared in National Review, FOX, USA Today, ABC News, Frontpage, Pajamas Media, NewsRealBlog, Montel Williams, and pretty much all over the internet, on the subject of honor killings. I am about to deliver a lecture in Aspen on this subject and will be in very good company: John Bolton, Charles Jacobs, Khaled Abu Toameh, Caroline Glick.

But guess what? Sometimes my statistics are used without being credited to me or to Middle East Quarterly at all—and by people who are using the statistics to fundraise for their various anti-Jihad and “Stop the Islamification of the Planet” campaigns. One can only hope that they will decide to do the right thing and simply cite their sources.

I am a girl. I dream.

North American Muslim Honor Killing Victims

Sarah and Amina Said (Texas, 2008)

Noor Almaleki (Arizona, 2009)

Aasiya Hassan (Buffalo, 2009)

Feroz Mangal and Khatera Sadiqi (Ottowa, 2006)

Aqsa Parvez (Toronto, 2007)

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