Great column by Phyllis Chesler on the failure of the media to connect the dots on "honor killings" in the US and Canada.
And if you've never read Chesler's classic and pioneering work on mothers, domestic violence, and child custody, check out Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody (1986) here:
October 26th, 2009 3:12 pm
Spinning Out Of Control: Honor Killings and Media Bias
We are entering an all-spin zone, a wild, weird and spooky season and I am not talking about Halloween.
With a few exceptions, the mainstream media continue to kill stories about honor killings and attempted honor killings in North America. How often did you read stories about the honor killings that took place in Toronto (07), Dallas (08), Atlanta (08), Oak Forest, Illinois (08), Alexandria (08), Buffalo (09), and Kingston, Canada (09)—on and on, until the most recent attempted honor killing in Phoenix?
There are two killers still on the loose: Yaser Said, the Dallas monster out of Egypt who abused, stalked, and murdered his two daughters with the help of his wife, their mother, and his son, their brother.
Iraqi-born Faleh Hassan Almaleki is another foul killer on the lam. Just last week, he ran over his 20-year-old daughter, Noor, with a car because she was “too western.” Imagine: This father used two tons of steel rage against his daughter. He mowed her down with a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Faleh also tried to kill the older woman who was with her, Amal Edan Khalef, with whom Noor was living. Amal had probably rescued Noor, but she was also the mother of Noor’s boyfriend. Both women are now in the hospital; Noor remains unconscious and is barely clinging to life.
At issue: Apparently, Noor had been fighting with her father for years. She did not want to remain in her arranged marriage and indeed, left the Middle East and dared to choose a boyfriend of her own. Yes, like the Said sisters, Noor also had pages on Facebook and at MySpace too. Noor knew she was living in the United States and not in the Middle East. Apparently, her father did not accept this as reality.
With the exception of brief, one-time reportage, (USA Today, AP, ABC News, etc.) the mainstream national media has not really covered this story. Only True Crime Reports has updated it. When it comes to Islam and honor killings, political, anthropological, historical, and psychological information is rarely brought to bear on the single story. Suddenly, completely out of context, one lone individual or one lone family just up and murders their daughter or their sister. No rhyme or reason to it. Case closed.
The local Arizona media have certainly covered this attempted honor killing and they’ve quoted experts who’ve said things as strange as the local Dallas media experts did in the Said case (It was not an honor killing, honor killings have nothing to do with Islam or with Muslims); as strange as the Florida media experts did in the case of Rifqa Bary, the teenage apostate runaway whom a Florida judge has just sent back to Ohio (She is an unbalanced, rebellious teenager who only imagines that she has been abused; she is in no danger at all).
Although the Bary case was decided narrowly, as a strictly jurisdictional decision, the local Florida media downplayed the danger that former Muslims face when they leave Islam–and the specific danger that young immigrant, often Muslim daughters face when they refuse to obey cultural and religious expectations. Hopefully, the Ohio judge will keep all this in mind.
And by the way: In custody cases (and Bary’s case is just that), judges have the discretion to listen to the wishes of minor children as young as 12. Bary is 17 years old–certainly old enough to know where danger lies.
Now back to the 4000-pound raging Iraqi father.
The Arizona Republic quotes Tom Keil, a professor at Arizona State University who said that honor killings exist “deep in the isolated hills of Appalachian Kentucky… (and is) prevalent in clannish societies.”
With all due respect to the scholar of Appalachia, I have just completed a study of honor killings on five continents that will be published in Middle East Quarterly. Although some Sikhs and Hindus do commit honor murders, it is primarily a Muslim-on-Muslim crime. Trust me on this.
But I’m going up against the most incredibly smooth and seamless spin, one that is constant, omnipresent. Really big.
Allow me to suggest that the White House is clearly engaged in micro-managing the news, especially when it pertains to political appointees, many of whom have come under attack.
For example: A network (which shall remain nameless) approached me for a comment on a story they were doing about President Obama’s Islamic faith advisor, Dalia Mogahed. Let’s say that the subject concerned Shari’a law, Muslim women, and gender justice. But before the network could publish their story, (which challenged some of Mogahed’s views and acts), guess what? A major and exclusive interview with Mogahed suddenly appeared in the pages of US News and World Report. The interview allowed Mogahed to backtrack, explain, put a slightly different spin on what she’d previously said about Muslim women’s view of Shari’a law as
the very vehicle which provides gender justice. I suppose if one is a religious Muslim woman and believes that Shari’a law is divine law, the conclusion that it does or should provide gender justice makes divine sense.
I mean minutes, perhaps no more than an hour, before the first story was slated to appear–this exclusive scooped the criticism. That first story is now cancelled.
And oh yes: Here’s what Jordanian journalist, Rania Husseini, recently said on Amy Goodman’s program Democracy Now about honor killings in Jordan. According to my source, Martin Rosenthal, “Husseini claimed that honor killings have nothing to do with any particular religion.” He sent me a small excerpt of what Ms. Husseini said in the interview:
“So it’s [honor killings are] really not restricted to any religion. I have covered cases of Christian women who were killed in Jordan for tarnishing their families’ honor, same in other parts of the Middle East. So really it has nothing to do with any religion. I think it’s mostly a tribal—I’m sorry, it’s a traditional practice more than a religious. For example, in India, Sikh families kill their daughters. In Iraq, a woman from a Yazidi faith was stoned to death recently. So, really, it has nothing to do with any religion, as much as it has to do with peoples’ wrongful cultural and traditional beliefs.”
It is never, ever Islam and when Muslims do something truly ghastly (like mow down their own daughter with a 4000 pound car or fly planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon) it is always someone else’s fault: The Zionists, the Americans, the Western colonialists, the daughter herself who, after all, forced her father into having to defend his obviously non-existent honor.