FROM Phyllis Chesler. On February 13, 2009, in Orchard Park, a suburb of Buffalo, 44 year-old Muzzamil Hassan, a prominent Muslim businessman was arrested for having be-headed his wife, 37 year-old Aasiya Z. Hassan. Yes, he beheaded her. Aasiya’s crime? She dared to obtain an order of protection which forced her violent husband out of their home.
We are now sadly familiar with some high profile Islamic beheadings of infidels in Muslim lands; Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, immediately come to mind. Sadly, we are also familiar with the practice of beheading, dismembering, burying alive, and stoning Muslim (and sometimes Christian) women to death in Muslim lands.
But this took place in a suburb of Buffalo, New York, in America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. What can this mean? Why behead a wife who wanted a divorce and who wanted to live free of daily violence? Why didn’t Hassan just agree to a divorce?
Because this foul murder is very probably an honor killing, a crime which has little to do with western-style domestic violence. Erie County District Attorney Frank A Sedita III has it all wrong. He commented: “Obviously, this is the worst form of domestic violence possible.”
Yes, domestic violence exists in all countries. Femicide, like homicide, also exists everywhere. But honor killings follow another, and quite distinct profile. I am about to publish an academic paper in Middle East Quarterly on this very subject. Although I do not, as yet, know all the details of this Buffalo case, let me say that one feature of at least half of all the honor killings that I have studied, involved the kind of barbaric cruelty that we associate either with western serial killers, Muslim terrorists, or with relatively ordinary Muslim families vis a vis their daughters and their wives.
According to my preliminary study, the majority of honor killings in the West are committed by Muslims. Hindus and Sikhs, who also come from shame and honor societies, do commit honor murders but they seem to do so far less frequently. Daniel Pipes and MEQ might decide to publish my article online sooner rather than later, (or so he told me yesterday), but until that time, I am reluctant to pre-empt its publication or to share its findings.
In the Mumbai massacre, Muslim terrorists tortured and mutilated living beings and perhaps corpses as well. Perhaps they wanted to render their hated victims “deader than dead” as has been suggested in a recent Symposium in Frontpage in which I participated. Simple death was not enough to render their victims powerless. A beheading suggests that the murderer wants to separate his victim’s mind from her body, he does not want to hear what she has to say, he wants her mute, beyond what duct tape can do and he wants her completely severed, disassociated from her ability to flee.