If you relied on the Islam-bashers like Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity, Brigitte Gabriel and others, you would believe the practice of "honor killings" is typically a Muslim and "Arab" problem.
But of course, the truth lies well beyond that simplistic and racially motivated claim.
"Honor killings" are not only committed by Muslims and Arabs, but also by Jews and Christians, too.
It is a gender-driven crime that occurs in many Third World nations and particularly in countries where poverty-stricken families cling to male-dominated cultural traditions.
An act of violence that is almost always fatal, the victim is always female, the victim of a male usually either a member of the victim's family, a relative or even a family friend.
The purpose or "justification" for the killing is to redress a dishonor that has been brought upon a family such as one involving women accused of infidelity, premarital sex, and more often than not, rumors that regardless of veracity have so embarrassed a family that even women not guilty of the allegations are none-the-less victimized.
The crime becomes even more pernicious because the societies in which these crimes occur often condone the crimes, usually by minimizing the punishment of the killers. In many cases, the killers serve only a few months in prison.
Tragically, those convicted of theft or corruption or even making slanderous statements against the governments or the religion, are punished far more severely, some being executed.
Recently, an alleged "honor killing" occurred in Damascus, Syria, involving a 16-year-old girl who died at the hospital in January after she was brutally attacked by her brother. Prosecutors charged the killing was a premeditated act organized by her family who suspected her of having an affair out of wedlock, dishonoring the family.
Zahra, according to reports, allegedly fled her family with another man who told her that her father was having an extra-marital affair. To protect her father, the daughter agreed to leave with the man.
If convicted under Syria's "honor killing" law, the brother would only be forced to serve three months, although a prominent Syrian sheik has denounced the possibility and the crime as "un-Islamic."
A similar killing may have occurred more than 9,000 miles away in the United States, in the city of Chicago, just this past week.
There, an Assyrian Christian immigrant from Iran, Daryoush Ebrahimi, was charged this week with murdering his wife, his wife's sister and his mother-in-law, after they allegedly criticized him and questioned his manliness.
Ebrahimi was denied bond in a Chicago court Monday. He reportedly told police he killed his wife, sister-in-law and mother-in-law because "they disrespected" him. Disrespect is a major motivation behind "honor killings."
Ironically, the Ebrahimi family came to the United States in November seeking asylum from Iran. They claimed they feared persecution in Iran because they are Christians. The family was granted asylum because of the anti-Iranian hysteria whipped up by President Bush and other Islamophobes.
Typical of male killers of women, Ebrahimi said he wanted to kill himself. He was reportedly found after the slayings by police "hitting himself" with a hammer. Despite much bleeding, Ebrahimi was treated and released from a hospital the same day.
Police said his wife, Karmin Khooshabeh, 44, and her stepsister, Karolin Khooshabeh, 40, had been bludgeoned to death and stabbed repeatedly with a 16 inch knife. They died at the scene. Ebrahimi then walked to the home of his 60-year-old mother-in-law and killed her.
There are approximately 100,000 Assyrians living in Chicago. Assyrians are often mistaken for "Arabs" because many speak both Arabic and Aramaic. They are a Christian minority group living primarily in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. Ebrahimi speaks Farsi, the language of Iran.
The family lived in an apartment in Rogers Park, a north side neighborhood of Chicago and attended the Assyrian Church of the East, St. George Parish. A priest at the church told a local television station that the alleged killer and his now deceased wife attended a baptism at the church only a week before.
Under American laws, the perpetrators of "honor killings" are not given special protections and Ebrahimi could face the death penalty unless a jury finds that he was "insane" at the time of the murder.
While a convicted "honor killing" perpetrator in another country could be released after only three to six months imprisonment, it is very likely that if convicted in the Chicago slayings, Ebrahimi will spend years behind bars, if not given a death sentence.
"Honor killings" are a problem in the Arab and Muslim World, but they are also a problem in many other countries, too.
Rather than using these tragedies to advance political agendas, the focus should be on the criminal act rather than on the race, ethnicity or religion of the perpetrators and the victims.
By Ray Hanania
The Arab American News
Copyright Arab American News Mar 3-Mar 9, 2007
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